New questions are being raised about John McCain’s constitutional eligibility to become president due to his birth in the Panama Canal Zone.
The New York Times reports on an analysis by Gabriel Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona, that focuses on a 1937 law conferring citizenship on children of American parents born in the Canal Zone after 1904.
Chin argues that the law came too late to make McCain a “natural-born citizen,” a requirement specified by the Constitution.
McCain was born on August 29, 1936, at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Zone, where his father, a Navy officer, was stationed.
According to Chin, there are only two ways to become a natural born citizen: To be born in the U.S., or to be covered by a law enacted by Congress at the time of one’s birth.
The 1937 law made McCain a citizen, but not one who was naturally born, Chin argues, because the citizenship was conferred after he was born.
“It’s preposterous that a technicality like this can make a difference in an advanced democracy,” Chin, a registered Democrat, told The Times. “But this is the constitutional text that we have.”
In April, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a nonbinding resolution declaring that McCain should be considered a natural born citizen.
Even Democrats, including rival Barack Obama, have said they didn't see a problem with McCain meeting the constitutional requirement, according to The Associated Press.
However, a lawsuit challenging McCain’s eligibility is pending in the Federal District Court in Concord, N.H., The Times reported.
But McCain’s lawyers assert that an individual citizen like the plaintiff, Fred Hollander of Nashua, lacks proof of direct injury and can’t sue.
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