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Legislation Introduced - by Democrats - to Declare McCain a U.S. Citizen

April 10, 2008 7:21 PM

With questions - however serious - about whether Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is eligible to run for president since he was born outside U.S. borders on an American Naval base, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. today introduced a non-binding resolution expressing the sense of the U.S. Senate that McCain qualifies as a "natural born Citizen," as specified in the Constitution and eligible for the highest office in the land.

Co-sponsors include Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barack Obama, D-Illinois; Leahy said he anticipates it will pass unanimously.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says to be eligible for the presidency a candidate must have reached the age of 35 years old, resided in the U.S. for 14 years; and must be a ‘‘natural born Citizen’’ of the United States.

The Constitution, however, does not define "natural born Citizen." McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to parents who were U.S. citizens, but some scholars have questioned if that suffices.

Earlier this month, Leahy asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff his views on the matter during a Judiciary Committee hearing.

"My assumption and my understanding is that if you are born of American parents, you are naturally a natural-born American citizen," Chertoff said.

Leahy concurred.

The resolution introduced today states: "Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a 'natural born Citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States."

"It is silly for anyone to argue that Senator McCain is not eligible to become president," said McCaskill in a written statement. "I would hope that this is something we can all agree on, for goodness sakes."

Since 1964, two other Republican presidential candidates, born outside U.S. borders, dealt with this question.

Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., was born in a U.S territory that later became the State of Arizona. Former Michigan Gov. George Romney was born in Mexico to parents born in the U.S.

- jpt

April 10, 2008 | Permalink | User Comments (34)

User Comments

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Now for the rest of the story: This senate action in the name of John McCain was really a cover up for Mr. Obama who is not a natural born citizen - born of two American parents on American soil. Treason...

Posted by: Sara123123 | Dec 21, 2008 1:56:21 PM

It's like an honorary degree. If congress wants you to be a natural born Citizen, they can call you that.

Will it all just go away if McCain is elected and sworn into office? I think not. This will make the election of George Bush in 2000 look like just so much chad. See the discussion as it escalates at

Posted by: PanamaJohn | Apr 24, 2008 6:18:48 PM

Senator McCain though Republican and my would-be choice in November is not eligible. My mother's famous quote that got her released from overseas duty for my birth was, "Your going to deny my unborn child the chance to one day become President." She was stationed in Britain at the time, and needed to get security clearance to leave her base to return to Walter Reid. Naval base, Air Force Base if you aren't born in one of the 50 states or the Capital, a district of the states your just not eligible. Otherwise my eighth grade education was misinformed.

Posted by: Rachael | Apr 13, 2008 12:04:08 PM

Okay...let's make some retroactive laws and resolutions-yeah! What? there a law against killing people? Well, even though you killed Bob, we just have to pass a resolution so you don't get punished.

Posted by: Andy | Apr 11, 2008 9:36:44 PM

John Sidney McCain III was not born on Coco Solo base within the Canal Zone on
29 August '36. He was born in the Colon
Hospital in the Republic of Panama. He
was naturalized a citizen of the United States on August 4, '37 (25 days before he turned one year of age) by a "collective naturalization" Act of Congress under Title 8, Section 5e, United States Code, which was repealed on January 13, '41.

How effective is a non-binding Senate
Resolution (SR-511) declaring McCain a
"Natural Born Citizen", when Congress
already acted on the subject through
a "collective naturalization" Act on
August 4, 1937, by naturalizing the class of persons John McCain belong to,
viz., aliens at birth to retroactivly
declaring him a citizen at birth. The
Senate Resolution is contrary to a
prior act of Congress, Public. No, 242
of August 4, 1937.

John McCain is a Natural Born Citizen of
the Republic of Panama, by being born within the limits of Colon City, Republic of Panama.

Posted by: Mark Seidenberg | Apr 11, 2008 5:01:18 PM

This is exactly the reason we cannot fix the immigration problem.... our very own legislators do not know what citizenship rules do we have, by birth, by blood or both.

If Senator McCain is to apply to immigrate to this country claiming citizenship rights, will he pass or be denied admission ? Look up the rules.

Posted by: janus | Apr 11, 2008 11:02:09 AM

any body with a brain knows that the meaning of Natural born , means someone born of American citizenship, in lieu of someone becoming a citizen after birth. So if a person is recognized as a citizen at birth such as McCain was that makes him natural born.

If it said a citizen born within our borders then that would be something else.

Another Liberal game to create a conspiracy.

Posted by: spock | Apr 11, 2008 10:56:37 AM

Jason states: The founders in the first congress stated many times that brats born on u.s bases were citizens.
Apr 11, 2008 7:28:10 AM

REALLY? How many bases outside the US did the first congress (Mar 1789-Mar 1791) have to set policy for?
Consider that the "natural born citizen requirement" didn't take effect until 1824 (the first year someone born in the US after ratification could be 35). It's amazing to think that the first Congress dealt with the issue of "natural born" citizenship status of Americans born on military bases outside the US "many times" before March 1791 (when the term of the first congress ended).

Posted by: jbcc54 | Apr 11, 2008 9:48:38 AM

Now as for the merits of the case, whether Sen. McCain is a "natural born citizen," this has never been challenged in a court of law. To complicate the matter is the 14th Amendment. The first sentence of Section 1 states: "All persons born or naturalized IN the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." (Emphasis is mine.)

Therefore one could legitimately make the argument that being born in U. S. Territories or on military bases abroad -- even when both parents are U. S. citizens -- do not qualify as being a "natural born citizens."

Posted by: James Danley | Apr 11, 2008 9:43:12 AM

that would be John Mccains ticket out of this mess if elected, anything goes wrong he walks on a technocality

be very scared people

Posted by: timothy enright | Apr 11, 2008 9:33:48 AM


You seem to have a myopic opinion that religious beliefs should be a condition for the presidency. Why is that?

Posted by: Shakeme | Apr 11, 2008 9:29:38 AM

John McCain born in Panama is not a U.S. Citizen.

John McCain best days are behind.

Obama all the way!

Posted by: Lookup | Apr 11, 2008 9:29:22 AM

This is really a big joke! If they were really serious they would introduce a bill that would define a "natural born citizen." Instead they pass this non-binding resolution to give the impression that this is what they actually believe. But in reality, should Sen. McCain win the general election on Nov 4, there will be a dozen lawsuits filed on Nov 5.

Posted by: James Danley | Apr 11, 2008 9:25:48 AM

Where McCain born was a U.S territory at that time.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 11, 2008 7:29:35 AM

McCain was born on a U.S base.

This is grandstanding by the dems. He doesn't need legislation. He is a legal u.s citizen.

McCain's father was there on an order from the government.

While Obama was raised in Indonesia with a muslim stepfather and attended a school where they taught muslim beliefs.

The founders in the first congress stated many times that brats born on u.s bases were citizens.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 11, 2008 7:28:10 AM

Micheal talks about a DE FACTO monarchy . He thinks that one person per family should get to be prez . Does that include the immediate family? Children cant be president? If so, why not the wife? Third cousing twice removed?

Hey Mike. Your logic is surely because you are in love with Obama. Great

Wanna explain to the class why you think Hillary cant be prez , but Obamas biggest sponsor - Ted Kennedy- has been in power FORTY YEARS in a row.

Did you know good ol Teddy has held the same senate seat LONGER than most of the MONARCHS on the planet?

I think Elizabeth is the only one who has her throne longer than teddy has sat on his mass sentate THRONE.

Posted by: tomdavie | Apr 11, 2008 3:42:54 AM

david - are you referring to Richardson whose mother crossed the border into CA to give birth to him then returned to Mexico City? I dont know if she made a legal crossing or not but I do know that is the story of his heritage per his own bio. Oh well he is only a Governor which does not have that requirement I guess. Perhaps that question would have come up if he had become the nominee eh?

Posted by: DCVoter | Apr 11, 2008 3:40:26 AM

hey! better an old fashion President than an utterly stupid one

Posted by: ruthmatters | Apr 11, 2008 2:33:46 AM

No question, just vote for the guy born outside the country, that is better to vote for the guy born inside the country but he likes to listen to the country's hatred.

Posted by: Kevin P | Apr 11, 2008 12:23:40 AM

what about Bill Richardson whose Mexican parents came to the USA to give birth for the sole purpos eof making Bill-pre-goatee to be a US citizen?

Posted by: geevill | Apr 10, 2008 10:03:45 PM

Should be anyone who is legally born a US Citizen regardless of where. Some of our best and brightest work many years outside of the country. Not that I among that august crowd, but, I have a daughter born in a US Navy hospital in Japan, a son born in a US Army hospital in Germany and a son born in a US Army hospital in Hawaii. I have two sisters and a brother born at the ABWE (association of baptists for world evangelism) hospital in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines. Based on temperment, talents and ambition, it is unlikely any of them will ever run for President. But, it is silly that of those six people who are all natural born US Citizens and two of which were born while their father was in the service of his country, only my youngest boy would be considered worthy of the honor. An even better question is should the child of an illegal who snuck accross the border, stole US taxpayer blood (money) by having her child born in a US hospital be more eligible for that honor than any of the five mentioned above? I do not think so.

Posted by: david atherton | Apr 10, 2008 9:52:14 PM

I was born outside the USA geographically as a "military brat" like McCain and many others. The SOS certified my citizenship because certain items of record are classified for military personnel and their families. In fact my recent proof was signed by Powell when he was SOS for passport reasons. McCain is a natural born citizen as were the other candidates of the past.

(Side thought - why is it that Obama is just now applying for a security clearance when he has been in the Senate for some time as well as the foreign relations committee? ceratinly this proves he has not been privvy to information he claims to have known. Why is it the recent reports about it have disappeared from MSM coverage for the most part? Hmm... )

In any case, it seems to me this is simply legislation that takes the burden off the decision makers so that there is no question. It also appears to be politically opportunistic but hey they are politicians. I personally dont think legislation was needed but it cant hurt.

Posted by: DCVoter | Apr 10, 2008 9:40:41 PM

I agree with the legislation; might as well remove all doubt. In my mind, McCain is a natural born citizen. Could it be that the founding fathers did not want adopted children of US citizens eligible for the presidency? I don't know how else it could be construed. I also don't think McCain's age is an issue. Ronald Reagan was 70 when he was sworn in for his first term. Other greats in history, like Winston Churchill, were no spring chickens either.

Posted by: Carol in Austin | Apr 10, 2008 9:28:55 PM


Citizenship was conferred on them but they are not necessarily "natural born".

Go to wikipedia, you will see what a quagmire this is. Pretty good case law synopsis.

Really interesting.

Posted by: countallthevotes | Apr 10, 2008 9:18:44 PM

Michael and Hank,

OK restrict age and lineage and what next?? Height, weight, overall health?? Note, the founders of this country could easily have included such restrictions in the Constitution but did not. Your restrictions would entail a constitutional amendment and would never pass constitutional muster.

Posted by: countallthevotes | Apr 10, 2008 9:11:25 PM

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