McCain's Birth Abroad Stirs Legal Debate





The Senate has unanimously declared John McCain a natural-born citizen, eligible to be president of the United States.

That is the good news for the presumptive Republican nominee, who was born nearly 72 years ago in a military hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. jurisdiction. The bad news is that the nonbinding Senate resolution passed Wednesday night is simply an opinion that has little bearing on an arcane constitutional debate that has preoccupied legal scholars for many weeks.

Article II of the Constitution states that "no person except a natural born citizen . . . shall be eligible to the office of president." The problem is that the Founding Fathers never defined exactly what they meant by "natural born citizen," and the matter has never been fully tested in court. At least three pending cases are challenging McCain's right to be sworn in as president.


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