February 28, 2008

Say - Maybe Democrats Will Sue to Force McCain Off the Ticket!

Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times is practically begging them to do so, on the grounds that McCain -- born in the Panama Canal Zone -- may not be a "natural born citizen":

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.

And why was McCain born in the Canal Zone? Because that's where his father -- then-Lieutenant (later Admiral) John Sidney McCain, jr., USN -- was stationed in 1936.

What a magnificent gift that would be to the Republican Party: to have Democrats sue to force the Republican nominee off the ballot... because his father foolishly obeyed his orders and moved to the Canal Zone, thus making his son a foreigner! Perhaps we should warn all military officers and enlisted men serving abroad that their children won't be eligible to be president or vice president.

Here is the constitutional clause in question, from Article II, Section 1:

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.

The purpose, as we all know, was to prevent foreigners from running our country. I would guess that virtually every American who has ever thought about this believes it means that only those who are citizens from birth -- as opposed to naturalized citizens -- are eligible to those two offices. Thus, neither Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan (born Canadian) nor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Cahleeforneeah (born Austrian) could take the oath.

Perhaps there is some technical, legal argument that what it really means is that only American citizens who happened to be born in a state of the United States are eligible to be president. If so, it's an argument only a lawyer could make... and only if he had a secret agenda, such as using a legal absurdity to "elect" Barack Obama without the tedious necessity of winning the vote.

The point is that election law is intended to make elections fair, a true expression of the will of the people... not to be twisted to give advantage to one side in a contest, at the expense not only of the other candates, but the voters as well. Yet so often, Democrats see the law as a puzzle, whose "solution" will give them the power to snatch a legal "victory" in spite of the vote.

This is not just anti-Democrat bias; it took former Vice President Al Gore to prove that you can't sue your way into the White House. Nobody else had ever thought of trying.

If the Democrats are crafty, judge-shopping to find a friendly Carter- or Clinton-appointee who will bend over backwards to give them the robes off his back, they might be able to get a district-court ruling in their favor. But the moment the case hits the circus courts, as Rumpole calls them, it will be thrown out; and I'm sure the Supreme Court would decline to aid and abet such a ludicrous attempted hijacking.

The upshot would be the spectacle of the Democrats (or their obvious allies) struggling (and failing) to disenfranchise the entire Republican electorate so that the Democrat could win. And I firmly believe that would lead to absolute catastrophe for Barack Obama; it would look so corrupt and anti-democratic that the backlash would elect McCain in a landslide.

I doubt the Democrats will take the bait; but as I said, the Times -- being now dominated by 1960s radical leftists who believe in winning by any means necessary -- seems to have convinced itself there is a real case here for barring McCain from the office. Over and over, the story notes that the courts have never ruled on the question:

“There are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,” said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. “It is not a slam-dunk situation....”

Ms. Duggin and others who have explored the arcane subject in depth say legal argument and basic fairness may indeed be on the side of Mr. McCain, a longtime member of Congress from Arizona. But multiple experts and scholarly reviews say the issue has never been definitively resolved by either Congress or the Supreme Court....

Quickly recognizing confusion over the evolving nature of citizenship, the First Congress in 1790 passed a measure that did define children of citizens “born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States to be natural born.” But that law is still seen as potentially unconstitutional and was overtaken by subsequent legislation that omitted the “natural-born” phrase.

This certainly seems to be egging the Democrats on; or perhaps not the Democrats themselves but a group like MoveOn.org: Brazen in their radicalism, open in their hatred of Republicans, unconcerned about their political viability -- and heavily funded by anti-American currency manipulator George Soros. Perhaps the Times hopes that just such a 527 as MoveOn will file the case and fight it up through the courts, maintaining the plausible deniability of the Democratic candidate.

But it won't work: So long as the Democratic Party continues kissing MoveOn.org's ring, they own whatever sleazy, mendacious tactics MoveOn uses. Obama would be forced to publicly disavow MoveOn, telling them to drop the case (for all the good that would do; MoveOn is beholden only to Soros, not to the Democratic nominee)... and then denounce them when they do not.

In any event, such a court fight would wipe out Obama's plan for a total "feel-good" campaign, as he gets whipsawed between a John McCain in righteous anger at "the Democrats" trying to "rig the election, Hussein style" -- and the radical-left wing of Obama's own party, which would take up the cry that Vietnam veteran and POW McCain was "not eligible" for the presidency because his father was dumb enough to move where he was posted in the 1930s.

As with the attempt by lawyers connected with the Gore campaign -- but not the campaign itself -- to disenfranchise Florida military personnel and all the abstentee voters in Martin and Seminole counties, no matter how much the candidate swears that his supporters don't have his support, nobody believes him... except his own supporters. If Obama tried it, the vast middle would laugh in his face.

I reckon the elite media think that the courts, like themselves, are just looking for a really, really clever way to thwart the GOP. It's like when smirking gun-prohibitionists say, "Well maybe the Second Amendment won't let us ban guns -- but it doesn't say anything about banning bullets!" To radicals, the law is not a tool to allow society to function smoothly: It's a videogame they can play to get their way, without actually having to win the vote.

I suspect the Democrats are too faint-hearted actually to push such a case (or else they're politically savvy enough to realize what would happen). They're not utter fools.

So the Times will be left to twist slowly in the wind, looking like the target in a game of pin the tail on the Democrat. Don't they ever get tired of looking stupid? Or will they, like Wile E. Coyote, just shake themselves off and try the next ingenious device (from the Acme Ingenious Device Company) to bring down the Roadrunner... and end up in a tiny poof! at the bottom of a cliff?

Instant Update: Patterico has the same story; in his post, he quotes one of the all-time greatest ripostes to such buffoonery at the Times. From "commenter 29Victor" at Hot Air:

Good thing McCain wasn’t born on February 29th, they’d be debating whether or not he is over 35.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 28, 2008, at the time of 3:06 AM

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Tracked on February 29, 2008 3:17 AM


The following hissed in response by: kimsch

Betsy at Betsy's Page draws our attention to
TITLE 8 > CHAPTER 12 > SUBCHAPTER III > Part I > § 1403
§ 1403. Persons born in the Canal Zone or Republic of Panama on or after February 26, 1904

(a) Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.

That seems to say it all.

The above hissed in response by: kimsch [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 5:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: levi from queens

George Romney was born in Mexico of American citizen parents (although they would not be citizens under current law. Hubert Humphrey was born in Mexico City where his father worked for the American Embassy there. In neither case was the prohibition felt to apply.

IIRC, the prohibition has only ever applied to two people who would otherwise have been taken seriously as a presidential candidate. One was Alexander Hamilton born in the West Indies and an enthusiastic backer of the provision which prevented him from running. The other is of course the governator.

The above hissed in response by: levi from queens [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 5:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: LTCTed

If the erroneous mental shorthand often used applies (Bush lied... The Supreme Court stole 2000 election...), if elected, Senator McCain will be "Not My President" and "The Illegal Alien President" to the Deranged Left.

The above hissed in response by: LTCTed [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 8:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

Like I said over at the site of the guy married to Patterica, ancestry-based citizenship has always been the rule. Territory-based citizenship is the add-on.

And if we're going to descend to this level: Under Muslim law, Barack Obama is a Muslim because his father was a Muslim, and under extreme Muslim law he is subject to the death penalty for apostasy. Under Talmudic law, he is Jewish because his mother was Jewish (Judaism is matrilineal) and he could apply for Israeli citizenship any time and it would automatically be granted. If we wanted to have some fun. Or if we wanted to paint him as the Antichrist.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 9:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Then there’s Henry Kissinger who, when it was pointed out to him that his foreign birth would disqualify from the Presidency replied, “Vell, I vas tinking more along the lines of Emperor.”

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 9:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

The liberal mind works something like this....

Bush and Republicans are so crazy, evil, rotten, etc. etc. that no one would ever vote for them. Therefore, the only possible way Republicans are in power is though some form of dirty tricks and stolen elections.

Therefore, the only right and proper thing to do is resort to similar such trickery to gain office.

How about Hillary is not eligible, since this would be her 3rd term (35 years of experience and all).

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 9:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/28/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 12:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: TerryeL

Ages ago I read that the first American president not born a British subject, was Martin Van Buren.

Not really relevant, but then this whole subject is so silly that it does not really matter anyway.

The above hissed in response by: TerryeL [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 1:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

I would like the suit carried forth and taken to Supreme Court resulting in the abolishment of the anchor baby issue and making Citzenship be by blood and not land

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 1:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: boqueronman

This has been an issue since the first married couple, both U.S. citizens, gave birth to a child overseas. I just took a look at my son's birth certificate, issued by the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. The document is entitled "Certification of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America." Is there anything unclear about this? While this same document may not have existed in the 1930s, I'm sure it can be traced back to something similar in spirit and in fact during this period. Give me a break!

The above hissed in response by: boqueronman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 2:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

I think the fact that the Panama Canal Zone was US Territory means that he was effectively born in the United States.
If the dhimmies do pursue this, it will be at their own peril.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 2:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


That seems to say it all.

Sadly, no. There are two arguments against that (neither of which I buy, but which are arguments):

  • The claim is that the Constitution sets up a special test for that office that is unrelated to the test of citizenship-from-birth... being a "natural born" citizen. If this has a different meaning (as they claim) from simply being a citizen by birth, then this law doesn't conflict with their goofy theory.
  • If in fact this law did conflict with their theory of what the Framers of the Constitution intended -- as (they claim) the original version of the Canal-Zone law did by defining "natural born citizens" -- then, they would claim, that law would be unconstitutional.

Thus, this question, to the extent that it even would be a question, would hinge on what the Framers meant by "natural born citizen," not on any post-hoc acts of Congress. But since, so far as I know, there was no extensive discussion about what they meant at the Constitutional convention, we're left to draw our own conclusions.

And since there is a very natural (sorry!) meaning for the term -- those who were born citizens of the United States -- which would cause the least amount of disruption to the functioning of the government, and which most comports with what people today believe that term of art means... then I think the Left might even have trouble getting a Clinton or Carter appointee to go along with the scheme, since it would be so quickly and brutally overturned by the corresponding appellate court.

Levi from Queens:

I looked in two different sources, one the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and both agree that Hubert Humphrey was born in South Dakota in 1911 (it became the 40th state in 1889). As far as George Romney, since he didn't even win the nomination, the question never really arose.

In any event, whether the rule was applied to people in the past wouldn't affect its constitutionality. The claim must rise or fall solely on the constitutional record and the plausibility (virtually nil, I believe) that that is what the Framers intended.


Ages ago I read that the first American president not born a British subject, was Martin Van Buren.

Yes, that's correct... but he was not the first "natural born citizen" to be president. Van Buren was born in 1782, which was after the Revolution (so he was not a British subject) but before the Constitution was ratified, establishing the "United States of America."

The next president, William H. Harrison, was born a British subject in 1773. Finally, Harrison's successor, John Tyler, was the first president to fall under the rule of "natural born" citizenship; he was born in 1790 -- two years after New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, causing it to go into effect and creating the modern United States, and a year after the government actually began functioning.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 2:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

This has to be the miracle Mike Huckabee was praying for, since, if Mac is disqualified, Huck becomes the automatic winner, doesn't he? Now that's hilarious!

Far, far funnier, if true, is this bit of arcane trivia about Obama; he may NOT repeat NOT be black!

Apparently, to qualify as a member of a minority in America you have to be 1/8th part of that minority. That is one of your grandparents has to be of fully of that minority.

Apparently the nearest black ancestor of Obama's is his great grand mother, making him 1/16th black and hence not entitled to call himself black.

A more fitting and proper (kosher!) designation would be "Arab-American" since all his ancestors on his father's side, except his greatgrandmother were Arabs. So America will NOT, repeat definitely NOT get a black President in November!

BTW to the person who wrote that Obama's mother was Jewish, making him halachically Jewish; any Jewess named Stanley automatically disqualifies herself!

But that would indeed be the funniest, if true, fact of all on the racial cocktail known as Barack (Arab/Jewish) Hussein (Arab/Muslim) Obama(Arab/African).

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 4:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: leftnomore

This argument did not originate with the Dhimmicrats-- I first read about it on a conservative site who were fierce opponents of McCain. The NYT only need look to the screeds of right-end bloggers for their story lines.

It's funny how the NYT opposition is uniting the Republicans under McCain.

The above hissed in response by: leftnomore [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 5:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

The Panama Canal Zone was American territory in 1936. He was born on American soil. He meets the test.
It was a stupid story when the anti-McCainiacs dug it up, and it is no more clever when the NYT rehashed it.
It is almost as if the NYT over the last week has twice run insultingly bad stories against McCain to unify support for McCain.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 12:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: Consul-At-Arms

I've quoted you and linked to you here.

The above hissed in response by: Consul-At-Arms [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 4:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Consul-At-Arms


U.S. citizenship based solely on place of birth is limited to the United States itself (continental U.S., plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands; see INA Section 101(a)(38), 8 U.S.C. 1101) and outlying possesions (American Samoa and Swain Island; see INA Section 101(a)(29), 8 U.S.C. 1101).

Anywhere else, and one or both parents have to be U.S. citizens in order to have a claim on American citizenship.

The above hissed in response by: Consul-At-Arms [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 4:15 PM

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