ABOUT SENATE RESOLUTION 511:

On April 30, 2008, the Senate unanimously passed Resolution 511 which stated as follows:

"Recognizing that John Sidney McCain, III, is a natural born citizen.

Whereas the Constitution of the United States requires that, to be eligible for the Office of the President, a person must be a "natural born Citizen" of the United States;

Whereas the term "natural born Citizen," as that term appears in Article II, Section 1, is not defined in the Constitution of the United States;

Whereas there is no evidence of the intention of the Framers or any Congress to limit the constitutional rights of children born to Americans serving in the military nor to prevent those children from serving as their country's President;

Whereas such limitations would be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the "natural born Citizen" clause of the Constitution of the United States, as evidenced by the First Congress's own statute defining the term "natural born Citizen";

Whereas the well-being of all citizens of the United States is preserved and enhanced by the men and women who are assigned to serve our country outside of our national borders;

Whereas previous presidential candidates were born outside of the United States of America and were understood to be eligible to be President; and

Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936:

Now, therefore, be it

Some now argue that this Resolution means that in order to be a "natural born citizen," a person must have been born to two U.S. Citizen parents. We find this interpretation of this resolution to be rather tortured, and to ignore key aspects of the resolution. Thus, even if the Resolution had any force of law (which, as a Senate Resolution, it does not, as noted here and here), the Resolution simply does not say what these folks say it says. Let's break it down:

Resolution Text Plain Meaning
Whereas the Constitution of the United States requires that, to be eligible for the Office of the President, a person must be a "natural born Citizen" of the United States;

The Constitution requrires a person to be a "natural born citizen" of the US to be eligible for the Office of President;

Whereas the term "natural born Citizen," as that term appears in Article II, Section 1, is not defined in the Constitution of the United States;

The term "natural born citizen" is not defined in the Constitution;

Whereas there is no evidence of the intention of the Framers or any Congress to limit the constitutional rights of children born to Americans serving in the military nor to prevent those children from serving as their country's President;

There is no evidence that the Framers intended to prevent children born to US citizens serving in the military from serving as President;

Whereas such limitations would be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the "natural born Citizen" clause of the Constitution of the United States, as evidenced by the First Congress's own statute defining the term "natural born Citizen";

Preventing a child born to US citizens serving in the military from serving as President would be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the clause, as evidenced by the First Congress' statute defining the term "natural born citizens";

Whereas the well-being of all citizens of the United States is preserved and enhanced by the men and women who are assigned to serve our country outside of our national borders;

The well-being of US citizens is preserved and enhanced by people who serve our military outside the U.S.;

Whereas previous presidential candidates were born outside of the United States of America and were understood to be eligible to be President; and

Prior candidates born outside the U.S. were understood to be eligible to be President; and

Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936:

John McCain was born to US citizens (one who was serving in the military) on an American miltary base outside the US.

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a `natural born Citizen' under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, because --
  • the Constitution does not define the term "natural born citizen";
  • there is no evidence that the Framers intended to preclude children born to military couples from serving as President and, indeed, such rule would be contrary to the First Congress' understanding of the term;
  • it is good for the country to have people serving in the military outside US borders; .... and
  • John McCain was born to a military couple (both US citizens), serving outside US borders

-- John McCain is eligible to serve as President.