With questions – however serious – about whether Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is eligible to run for president since he was born outside U.S. borders on an American Naval base, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. today introduced a non-binding resolution expressing the sense of the U.S. Senate that McCain qualifies as a "natural born Citizen," as specified in the Constitution and eligible for the highest office in the land.
Co-sponsors include Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barack Obama, D-Illinois; Leahy said he anticipates it will pass unanimously.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says to be eligible for the presidency a candidate must have reached the age of 35 years old, resided in the U.S. for 14 years; and must be a ‘‘natural born Citizen’’ of the United States.
The Constitution, however, does not define "natural born Citizen." McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to parents who were U.S. citizens, but some scholars have questioned if that suffices.
Earlier this month, Leahy asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff his views on the matter during a Judiciary Committee hearing.
"My assumption and my understanding is that if you are born of American parents, you are naturally a natural-born American citizen," Chertoff said.
The resolution introduced today states: "Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born Citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States."
"It is silly for anyone to argue that Senator McCain is not eligible to become president," said McCaskill in a written statement. "I would hope that this is something we can all agree on, for goodness sakes."
Since 1964, two other Republican presidential candidates, born outside U.S. borders, dealt with this question.
Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., was born in a U.S territory that later became the State of Arizona. Former Michigan Gov. George Romney was born in Mexico to parents born in the U.S.