Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

How to Fumble a Sure Thing


That New York Times story I wrote about this morning showed a bit of life today when some reporter asked John McCain on his plane today what he thought of the question whether he was eligible for the presidency as a “natural born citizen.”  His answer: “Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory . . . and it went all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Say what?  There was never any adjudication by the Court of the question of Goldwater’s citizenship.  McCain expressed confidence that there is no question of his own eligibility, and he should have stopped there.  Now he has a misstatement to retract.  It’s a strange virus, judicial supremacy–the infection can even cause people to think they are sure that a constitutional question whose answer is evident to them must have been answered that way by the Supreme Court!


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