McCain’s Eligibility – Natural-Born Citizen?

This is the second comment in as many days I’ve seen on this point. John McCain was born abroad, on a United States military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Does that make him ineligible under the United States Constitution, Article I, section 1, clause 5 (the “Natural Born Citizen Clause”)? The clause states that:

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.

I have not researched the question with a view to SCOTUS precedents, but I have always taken that clause to mean, “born a citizen,” as opposed to “naturalized.” It seems kind of incredible to suggest that the Founders would have excluded from the presidency a man born to American citizens on an American military installation, there on orders, as a foreigner or threat to the internal and sovereign governance of the United States. Of course, I also can’t see anyone with standing – whomever that might be – being so foolish as to challenge McCain’s eligibility, should he be elected, in the courts.







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