It was handed down yesterday in Robinson v. Bowen. The key language (paragraph break added):
Article II states that "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." Article II left to Congress the role of defining citizenship, including citizenship by reason of birth. Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815, 828 (1970). Many decades later, the Fourteenth Amendment set a floor on citizenship, overruled the Dred Scott decision, and provided that all born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, were citizens. Nonetheless, subject to the floor of the Fourteenth Amendment, it has always been left to Congress to define who may be a citizen by reason of birth (or naturalization proceedings, for that matter). Id. at 829--30.
At the time of Senator McCain's birth, the pertinent citizenship provision prescribed that "[a]ny child hereafter born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such child is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States." Act of May 24, 1934, Pub. L. No. 73-250, 48 Stat. 797. The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase "out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States" in this statute to be the converse of the phrase "in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof," in the Fourteenth Amendment, and therefore to encompass all those not granted citizenship directly by the Fourteenth Amendment. [Footnote: United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 687 (1898) ("The words 'in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,' in the first sentence of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution, must be presumed to have been understood and intended by the Congress which proposed the amendment ... [as] the converse of the words 'out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States,' as habitually used in the naturalization acts.")]
Under this view, Senator McCain was a citizen at birth. In 1937, to remove any doubt as to persons in Senator McCain's circumstances in the Canal Zone, Congress enacted 8 U.S.C. 1403(a), which declared 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.
The court goes on to say that the plaintiff ("a mere candidate hoping to become a California elector pledged to an obscure third-party candidate whose presidential prospects are theoretical at best") also lacks standing to challenge McCain's qualifications, and also that
Arguments concerning qualifications or lack thereof can be laid before the voting public before the election and, once the election is over, can be raised as objections as the electoral votes are counted in Congress. The members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are well qualified to adjudicate any objections to ballots for allegedly unqualified candidates. Therefore, this order holds that the challenge presented by plaintiff is committed under the Constitution to the electors and the legislative branch, at least in the first instance. Judicial review -— if any -- should occur only after the electoral and Congressional processes have run their course.
All this makes the judge's views quoted above pretty much dictum rather than legally binding on anyone -- but then again the reasoning in many judicial opinions (for instance, most concurrences and all dissents) falls in the same category. The judge thought that his opinion on the subject would be helpful, so he rendered it.
Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.