December 8th, 2008
11:42 AM ET
5 years ago

SCOTUS rejects appeal questioning Obama's citizenship

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal that questioned Obama's eligibility to be president.
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal that questioned Obama's eligibility to be president.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from a retired lawyer in New Jersey who questioned Barack Obama's eligibility to be president, because he had dual British-American citizenship at birth.

The justices without comment on Monday refused to intervene in the November 4 presidential election, dismissing the claims of Leo Donofrio, a resident of East Brunswick, New Jersey.

In his appeal, Donofrio claims that because Obama's father was a Kenyan-born British subject, the president-elect does meet the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural born citizen" of the United States. Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. His mother was a U.S. citizen, born in the United States.

Many legal analysts questioned Donofrio's argument.

"The law has always been understood to be, if you are born here, you're a natural born citizen," said Thomas Goldstein, founder of the Scotusblog.com Web site, and a lawyer who has argued numerous cases before the high court. "And that is particularly true in this case, when you have a U.S. citizen parent like Barack Obama's mother."

In another lawsuit making its way through the courts, Philip Berg of Pennsylvania alleges the president-elect was actually born in Kenya. Berg claims Hawaii officials will not let him see Obama's original birth certificate, although the campaign posted a copy of it online this summer, following numerous blog postings over the citizenship question. That case had previously been dismissed by lower federal courts.

The appeal rejected Monday is Donofrio v. Wells (08A407).


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (539 Responses)
  1. common sense 4u2

    You conspiracy nuts have been wearing your tin foil hats for way too long

    December 8, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Kel in Auburn, AL

    SCOTUS? That sounds kinda gross, like its a new dirty slang word..

    I'm glad they shot this stupid lawsuit down, though.

    December 8, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Steph

    It is a Certificate of Live Birth. He has one. You've seen it. He is a citizen. You lost the election. Get over it.

    December 8, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    John Mcain was actually born in Panama at a Naval Base where his Admiral father worked. The motion to accept his Presidential candidate was moved in Congress by Barack Obama who was Born in Hawaii. Obama is a US Citizen by Birth unlike John Mcain. I am Kenya by birth with two great sons. My 12 yrs was born in Kenya. My 10yrs was born right here at Dallas. Maybe he will be a president and his brother State Governor.

    December 8, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Ken in Dallas

    Incidentally, Hawaii became a state in 1959, well before Barack Obama's birth.

    Hawaii's status doesn't really matter, anyway. If you're born anywhere in the world as the child of a US citizen, you are a US citizen by birthright.

    QED.

    December 8, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. That Other Jerry

    It's bad enough to watch the nut cases from both the right and left ninny at each other on this blog. Now we have a genuine certifiable tying up the resources of the US government to officially declare that he is, in fact, an idiot. The SCOTUS should have punitively fined this guy into poverty and used the proceeds to help a few folks out of foreclosure. The handful of Republicans who still have functional brains and who care about the party have enough work ahead of them, without the lovely PR generated by this Christmas fruitcake.

    December 8, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Fernando

    FAIL. Can we please let this ridiculousness go now?

    December 8, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Reality Check richmond virginia

    why would anyone question the argumant of a lunatic?

    December 8, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Christy

    The book "Dreams From My Father" was written by Barack Obama long before he dreamed of running for presidency. There he talks about his relationship with his grandparents and thier relationship with his Father (their son-in-law) in Hawaii, prior to his birth. Barack comments often throughout the book that he had never been to Kenya and then takes the reader with him the first time he touches the grandest continent in the world – in the 1980's. Those of you who are full of hate and fear should pick up a book and read. Education does wonders.

    December 8, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. John in Ohio

    Cattlecar: You're an idiot.

    Were You There: It's easy to pretend you're just being reasonably skeptical. What evidence wil you accept? Would you have to go to Hawaii and see it personally? Do you apply these standards to everything? Do you apply them to all politicians, or just the black ones with funny names? Have you demanded to see the birth certificate for John McCain?

    Martha: The birth certificate has been produced. I've seen the pictures of it. Go to the snopes website and knock yourself out.

    Frank: Fortunately under Obama's health plan you should be able to get the psychiatric treatment and medication you require.

    December 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Sacha

    This CNN blog post does not explain the point of the Donofrio case.
    The blog post says, "Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961," as if it is a fact. My understanding is that the Donofrio lawsuit disputes that. I had to learn it from reading real political blogs, instead of this phony old media, old news attempt at a blog.

    I wonder how much money "political ticker" staff are being paid, and whether you could at least explain the point of the lawsuit?

    December 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Senior Citizen

    Does Obama need to show all you bone heads his Birth Certificate for you to believe him. I mean, this is ridiculous.... so lets see whats the argument.....
    Obama is not a natural born citizen.... how about we put it like this

    He is ..... Lets not pay attention to rumours which will just lead us to wasting our precious time.... time is money.

    December 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Calafalas

    People with 1 great grandparent who was jewish, or anyone of jewish ethnicity is eligible for citizenship in Israel.

    December 8, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Mark

    Actually I hope the right wing fringe goes right ahead bringing challenges like this. The wackier the theory, the better! Discredit yourselves right out of existence, please.

    December 8, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. Marcus

    HA HA HA HA HA!!!! People are still MAD!!!

    It's so funny to see all these sore losers see one of the "greatest leaders of our time" take office and begin to change this country.

    Don't worry Obama Haters...he won't turn his back on you.

    December 8, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Katie

    I am finally glad that this nonsense is over, he was born in Hawaii and think about it, why would his 9 month preganant mother travel to Kenya to have him, but, even so, the officials in Hawaii have examined it, this is another ploy to destroy Obama and it has been foiled by a conservative SOCTUS. Last, for those who do not want to accept Obama as president, many of us had to accept Bush for 8 yrs

    December 8, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Love My USA/Do You?

    I asked quite a few questions regarding BO birht certificate. GUESS WHAT??? CNN will not print it.. Guess this won't get printed eiather!

    December 8, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. ran

    This opens up a very important immigration issue in that any person born on US soil should not be given citizenship unless at least one of the parents is already a US citizen. That stipulation would end a lot of our illigal immigration problems.

    December 8, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. DJohn

    There is still one more case pending Berg) but if this is allowed to stand it will set a precedent that you will NOT have to be a "natural born citizen" in order to hold the office of The President. Are we ready for that? Arnold 2012.....it's coming!!!

    December 8, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Rick

    Proof that SCOTUS isn't the right-wing conspiracy that the Dems have laid it out to be.

    December 8, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Rik Tee

    TO FRANK aka mediocre clown,..... "squared"!
    [ If ] you, Mr. Clown, declared [ yourself ] as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, FBI, CIA, and every other US intelligence agency would be looking "up your nose" to count the nose hairs!!! So [ how ] and [ why ] do you think something "this important" would [ slip by ] all of those agencies????? Like the man said,.... "you are an idiot" !!! Whether Barack is black, yellow, white or green,.... they would know,..... SO,...... you "are" an idiot !!!

    Tee

    December 8, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. bsmith171

    the constitution is further shredded.
    the supreme court is political and should be closed down.

    December 8, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. educated Ron

    There are still people trying to convince america to vote for McCain/Palin. Its almost funny.

    Get off the citizenship thing already, he wouldn't have been able to get even a social security number if he wasn't ever checked out.

    Haha. McCain/Palin.

    My only fear is some right wing nut case who may be plotting to destroy this great leader.

    December 8, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. STEVE WILLIAMS JR

    MCCAIN WAS BORN IN PANAMA AND OBAMA WAS BORN IN THE U.S. HAWAII. IF THE SUPREME COURT JUST REJECTED THIS THEN IT'S OVER. WE ALL KNOW OBAMA WAS BORN IN THE U.S. THIS SOON TO BE PRESIDENT PLAYED MONOPOLY WITH MCCAIN AND BEAT HIM EASY. NOW REPUBLICANS ARE CRYING ):

    December 8, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Paul Thompson

    Why has Obama's Lawyers spent millions...in these hard economic times to defer from releasing his college and birth records?

    December 8, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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