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In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”
Title 8 of the U.S. Code Section 1401 defines the following as people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:"
Anyone born inside the United States
Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person's status as a citizen of the tribe
Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S.
Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national
Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year
Any one found in the U.S. under the age of five, whose parentage cannot be determined, as long as proof of non-citizenship is not provided by age 21
Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)
A final, historical condition: a person born before 5/24/1934 of an alien father and a U.S. citizen mother who has lived in the U.S.
The analysis, by Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, focused on a 1937 law that has been largely overlooked in the debate over Mr. McCain’s eligibility to be president. The law conferred citizenship on children of American parents born in the Canal Zone after 1904, and it made John McCain a citizen just before his first birthday. But the law came too late, Professor Chin argued, to make Mr. McCain a natural-born citizen.
There are, Professor Chin argued in his analysis, only two ways to become a natural-born citizen. One, specified in the Constitution, is to be born in the United States. The other way is to be covered by a law enacted by Congress at the time of one’s birth.
Professor Chin wrote that simply being born in the Canal Zone did not satisfy the 14th Amendment, which says that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
A series of early-20th-century decisions known as the Insular Cases, he wrote, ruled that unincorporated territories acquired by the United States were not part of the nation for constitutional purposes. The Insular Cases did not directly address the Canal Zone. But the zone was generally considered an unincorporated territory before it was returned to Panama in 1999, and some people born in the Canal Zone when it was under American jurisdiction have been deported from the United States or convicted of being here illegally.
In April, the Senate approved a nonbinding resolution declaring that Mr. McCain is eligible to be president. Its sponsors said the nation’s founders would have never intended to deny the presidency to the offspring of military personnel stationed out of the country.
Originally posted by SteveR
If it really becomes an issue, the Republicans will modify law for him.