Thursday, February 28, 2008

Talk about a non-issue

The New York Times, in its continuing campaign against John McCain, raises the ultimate non-issue: whether he is truly a U.S. citizen because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
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.
The question of who is a natural-born citizen comes up every year in my AP Government class when we look at the requirements for being president. It's absolutely clear from American history and law that children born to U.S. citizens abroad are still American citizens. This especially would apply to someone in the military stationed abroad. Can you imagine if we told our American servicemen that we would station them abroad but that their children would have to forfeit citizenship while they served our country abroad.

The blog Sweetness and Light goes through the law to explain why there are several provisions that apply to a child born in the Panama Canal Zone is a U.S. citizen.

Perhaps this has been an issue knocked around some blogs, but it is not a true debatable question. S & L links to this page that explains the U.S. Constitution which provides this particular definition of what a natural-born citizen is.
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.
And then there is this provision, 8 USC 1403, of the U.S. legal code.
1403. Persons born in the Canal Zone or Republic of Panama on or after February 26, 1904
How Current is This?
(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.
(b) Any person born in the Republic of Panama 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 employed by the Government of the United States or by the Panama Railroad Company, or its successor in title, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.
I guess that sort of research is too difficult for the journalists and editors of the NYT. They act as if this were some questionable issue instead of clearly settled law.