Citizen McCain Gains Senate Support

Colleagues back scrappy 'Panamanian,' but resolution isn't law
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2008 4:16 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A New Hampshire man pushing for a federal-court ruling that John McCain isn't eligible to be president will have trouble making his case—but the question of McCain's status as a "natural born citizen" is uncharted legal territory, the Washington Post reports. The Senate voted this week to declare the Panama Canal Zone native eligible, but the measure was a nonbinding resolution.

"The Constitution is ambiguous," says one legal scholar. "Congress cannot legislatively change the meaning of the Constitution." A State Department manual, which another professor described as "opinion," says children born on military installations are not citizens, and neither are natives of some US territories. The only official resolution, experts say, would be a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision.