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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Constitutional Law giving Fodder to the Democrats

McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out - New York Times:

"The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states."

Wow! I was wondering why Huckabee was staying in the race for so you realize the turmoil this could put the party into? So late in the game? It could mean that the Republican Convention may actually appoint a candidate that wasn't chosen by the fact it could mean that the GOP could appoint a presidential candidate that wasn't even ON any of the ballots.

But that being said the story misstates several things. First, the way the story states it ('continental united states') would mean no one born in Alaska or Hawaii could be President-that's not true. Here is the way states Article 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution:

Clause 5: Qualifications for office
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
By the time of their inauguration, the President and Vice President must be:

natural born citizens (or citizens at the time of the Constitution's adoption)
at least thirty-five years old
inhabitants for at least fourteen years
of the United States.
The Twenty-second Amendment also prevents a President from being elected more than twice.
The natural born citizen clause is a subject of debate. No law or court ruling has ever established the precise definition of a natural born citizen. It is generally agreed that a natural born citizen of the United States is any person born in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. But it is not firmly agreed if this definition should also include persons born in United States overseas territories or persons born to United States citizens living abroad.
To date, no such person has been nominated for President or Vice President by a major political party[ginger's note: because the vice-president has to meet the same qualifications as the president in case they need to fill the position even though it does not say so], although some serious candidates for nomination (most recently
George W. Romney, who was born in Mexico[ginger's note: this is not Mitt Romney who ran for the GOP ticket], and John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone)
have fallen into the area of uncertainty. There is currently a movement to abolish the natural born citizen clause and allow immigrants to be President, thereby also eliminating the controversies regarding the definition of natural born. It has received exceptional support from California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger who was born in Austria.

Now it has to be said that since there is a secondary clause of '14 yrs residence in the United States' has always been interpreted as meaning 'living within the boundries of one of the states' the scope of United States has been established. If this were not the case then a soldier who is serving in Iraq, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, etc. would be able to run for office from where they are at.

As far as having foreign born citizens hold office--I can't see it happening, not in today's world. The clause was put in to prevent influence of foreign powers on the office. There is nothing that says an American citizen born in a foreign country can't be senator or representative---they have the real power anyways. Nor is there anything that says an immigrant (as long as a US citizen) can't sit on the Supreme court. So I don't see the issue.

Secondly, the reason that this question has never been raised is because it has always been understood that those born outside of the 50 states CAN'T run for president anymore.

I grew up with a friend who was born in Japan while his father was working there for the ambassador...he was part of the official ambassadorial staff so he was born an American citizen, but it was made very clear to his family, and later to him when he turned 18yrs that he would not be eligable to run for president based on his birth place. While yes he was a born citizen of the US, the fact that he was born out of the states (although on US-declared soil) he was excluded due to Art. 2, Cl 5!

There really is no debate. we're in trouble. Newt Gingrich may end up as the nominee yet.


What if they pick Rush?

We're dead.

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