Judge sets hearing for challenge to McCain's candidacy

Chris Rizo Aug. 23, 2008, 5:37pm

John McCain (R)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-A federal judge has ordered expedited briefing in a case that contends that John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, cannot become president because he was not born on U.S. soil.

The American Independent Party is seeking to have the Arizona senator's name removed from ballots in California.

The group says in court papers that federal law would bar the former Vietnam War POW from taking office were he to be elected in November because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 while his father was stationed at Coco Solo Naval Air Station.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California will hear arguments in the case Sept. 11, said AIP attorney Gregory Walston of the law firm of Walston Cross of San Francisco.

The American Independent Party claims it will be "irreparably harmed by Senator McCain's illegal and illegitimate presence on the ballot."

The plaintiffs in the case want McCain enjoined from running for president.

In 1937, Congress enacted a law granting citizenship to people born in the Panama Canal Zone after 1904. But critics say the law still does not confer "natural-born" citizenship on McCain, which would be required for him to take the Oval Office.

Also named in the AIP lawsuit are the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party. The lawsuit argues the GOP is engaging in "unfair competition" by putting forth an "illegitimate" presidential nominee.

"The harm sustained by being forced to compete against-and potentially be defeated by-and illegal and illegitimate campaign cannot be monetarily remedied nor can it be remedied after the November general election in any manner," the petition said.

The lawsuit was brought by Markham Robinson of Vacaville, Calif., chairman-elect of the American Independent Party. The AIP has nominated author Alan Keyes for president.

Keyes was appointed ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations under Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and served as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1985 to 1987.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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