Foreign Policy Madeleine Albright, a Czech Native, Could Never Ascend to Presidency

Article excerpt

As secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright would be closer to the presidency than any woman in the history of the Republic. Close, that is, but no cigar.

A glass ceiling of an entirely different sort would prevent Albright from ever moving into the Oval Office. The secretary of state may be fourth in the line of succession should anything happen to the president, but because the Czech native is not a "natural born citizen" she is barred by the Constitution from the presidency.

"Since she's not qualified, if it ever came down to her, she would simply be passed over," said Johnny H. Killian, a constitutional scholar at the Congressional Research Service. The circumstance has never arisen, so the line of succession behind the vice president has always been a theoretical issue. But it has the potential, however remote, of arising during a cataclysmic crisis. Albright will not be the first secretary of state rendered ineligible by birth from becoming commander-in-chief, nor even the most prominent. Henry A. Kissinger, who defined the role for a generation while serving two Republican presidents in the 1970s, was a native German. For most of U.S. history, the secretary of state was second in line, behind the vice president. …