updated 9/18/2008 12:21:19 AM ET 2008-09-18T04:21:19

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to remove John McCain from the California ballot because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

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U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled late Tuesday that the law at the time of McCain's birth automatically granted citizenship to offspring of U.S. citizens.

McCain's parents were both citizens when McCain was born Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone, a U.S. territory where his father was stationed with the U.S. Navy.

Alsup said Congress passed a law the following year specifically to "remove any doubt as to persons in Sen. McCain's circumstances in the Canal Zone," thus "retroactively rendering Sen. McCain a natural born citizen, if he was not one already."

The Constitution requires that only "natural born" citizens hold the presidency, a term on which the Founding Fathers did not elaborate.

The judge also said the plaintiff, Markham Robinson, chairman of the American Independent Party, had no standing to file the lawsuit because he is not a candidate for president.

McCain said last February that the issue was put to rest 44 years ago when Republican Barry Goldwater sought the presidency. Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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