Bench Memos

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“Senate Unanimously Declares John McCain ‘Qualified’ to be President”


There’s a headline you did not expect to see anywhere.  Especially not in The New York Times.  But that is pretty much what you will see in today’s edition.  Yesterday the Senate formally declared that, even though he was born on foreign soil, John McCain counts as “a natural born citizen.”  The reason why it matters is in Article II, section 1, clause 5 of the Constitution, which says: “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 be President.” Now, you know why Governor Ah-nold and Henry Kissenger — and millions of other American citizens — may not be President: they were not born here.  Nor were they naturalized before 1789 — or born into a military family while stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, as John McCain was.

The Senate’s non-binding resolution has not the force of law.  But it surely gets the law right.  A cheer, too,  for Senator Patrick Leahy, who (with Missouri’s Claire McCaskill)  was chief author of the resolution. 


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