New York Times Runs False Article about John McCain’s Citizenship

This morning (28 February, 2008) the New York Times ran an article by

Carl Hulse, entitled, “McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About

Whether that Rules Him Out.” The article spends 21paragraphs getting sweaty

palmed over whether John McCain is eligible to be elected President, since

he was born outside the mainland United States.

The article begins, of course, with the requirement in the Constitution

that to be President a person must be a “natural born Citizen.” The

Constitution also requires that President be “thirty five Years” old, and

“fourteen years a Resident within the United States.” The Times left out

that last requirement, which makes clear that citizenship and residency are

not the same thing.

The article quotes various experts, most questioning McCain’s” natural

born citizenship.” Only three paragraphs from the end does the article

mention that Congress passed a law defining children of US citizens born in

the Canal Zone after 1904, as US citizens “at birth.” The Times totally

misses a law passed in 1790, written by many of the same people who wrote the

Constitution, which provided “citizenship at birth” to children born to US

citizens, outside the country.

The other aspect of the story which the Times totally ignores is the

power of Congress to pass such laws defining citizenship. The original

authority is in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, which gives Congress the

power to “establish an (sic) uniform Rule of Naturalization.” More recent

and more important, the 14th Amendment begins, “All persons born or

naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction

thereof….” That Amendment ends with this, “The Congress shall have the

power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this


Note the critical phrase, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof….”

Jurisdiction is a legal matter, which is defined in this instance by federal

law, not by accidents of geography.

The bottom line is clear. The 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to

define a child of US parents born outside the US, as nonetheless a “natural

born citizen.” Therefore the Act of Congress to include children born to US

parents in the Canal Zone is plainly constitutional.

So, by doing incomplete homework, perhaps deliberately, the New York Times

has created another hatchet job on John McCain, to benefit either Barack

Obama or Hillary Clinton, either of whom the Times prefers. The Times has

also, again, damaged its reputation as a newspaper that supposedly seeks and

publishes the facts.

But the Times has also done an accidental public service with

this article. It has drawn public attention to Congress’ authority to define,

by law, the circumstances which make a child a “natural born” American.

If Congress has the power to declare that a child of American parents,

but born overseas, is an American, then Congress has the equal power to

declare that a child born of Mexican parents in the United States is NOT an

American citizen. That would apply only if the Mexican, or Canadian, or any

other nationality, parents were not legally in the US at the time of the

child’s birth.

John Armor, a spokesman for the ACRU, has written that the problem of

“anchor babies,” children of illegal immigrants who were “US citizens by

birth,” could and should be solved by Congress. “As I pointed out months

ago,” Mr. Armor said, “it is routine federal law that children of embassy

personnel in D.C. are citizens of their parents’ nations, not of the US, even

when they are born in US hospitals. This is not rocket science.”

Those who say that only a constitutional amendment can solve the “anchor

baby” problem, including the Times, are incompetent in doing their homework