A San Francisco federal judge ruled late Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's claim of U.S. citizenship is strong enough that a lawsuit challenging his placement on the California ballot should be dismissed. William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled in the case of Robinson v. Bowen, filed by an elector pledged to third-party candidate Alan Keyes seeking an injunction to keep McCain off the November ballot. Two other challenges claiming that McCain's birthplace in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 disqualifies him under the Constitution have been dismissed on standing grounds. But Alsup evaluated the merits of the claim in a hearing last week and in this order issued Sept. 16.
Reviewing pertinent statutes including one passed in 1937 on Canal Zone citizenship, Alsup found that "persons in Senator McCain's circumstances are citizens by virtue of their birth, thereby retroactively rendering Senator McCain a natural born citizen, if he was not one already. This order finds it highly probable, for the purposes of this motion for provisional relief, that Senator McCain is a natural born citizen. Plaintiff has not demonstrated the likelihood of success on the merits necessary to warrant the drastic remedy he seeks."
Alsup also ruled that the plaintiff has "no greater stake than a taxpayer or voters" and so had no standing to challenge McCain's placement on the ballot. Interestingly, Alsup went on to say that procedures are available under the 12th and 20th Amendments to the Constitution to challenge a candidate's qualifications when electoral votes are counted, not before. "Judicial review if any should occur only after the electoral and congressional processes have run their course."