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. deb in Colo

    Why did the Supreme Court hear this case? Don't they have more important things to consider?

    December 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Val, Atlanta, Ga

    Wouldn't you think all of this was done before he got the OK to run for president or is the Republicans scared President Elect Obama was vetted like Sarah Palin, NONE.

    December 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Chelsea

    @ Wake UP America... Umm... Woah there Nellie... Chill out. "Threw her under the bus???" Are you SERIOUS?.. My GOD... Don't you have a hobby you need to get back to? Perhaps collecting guns or attempting to marry your relatives?

    December 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. lf

    Give it a rest. He won. He will serve. Quit wasting the courts time. At least he is smarter than a 5th grader. Can't say that about Bush.

    December 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. w.l. jones

    We all had dual-British-American citizenship for the last two-hundred and thirty-two years so what the problem.? Can we just get alone.

    December 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Pat Pa.

    Hopefully this nonsense is now over. My God, enough already. The far right will do anything to try and keep this man from being president, but now, it should be finally over.

    December 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. shameful

    It is despicable that you would censor the truth from your comment section. Thank you for reminding me why the mainstream media can never be trusted because you guys are a bunch of puppet shills who can't think for yourselves and don't have the integrity to allow the truth to be heard.

    Obama/Biden '08!

    December 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Ken in NC

    When 2 people come across the border from Mexico into the USA and the lady gives birth to a baby in New Mexico 2 days later, that child is a NATURALIZED AMERICAN because that child was born on US soil even though the parents are not legal in this country.

    Now explain how Obama was born on US soil to an American mother cannot get the same privilege given a child born to 2 Mexican parents on US soil.

    December 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Necie

    Will ignorance ever cease???? To all you Conspiracy theorists.....Do you have PROOF that President Obama is NOT a natural born citizen, post it on you-tube and we'll check it out.....otherwise STFU!!!

    BTW...that PROOF must be certified and stamped by the bureau of vital statics. Kinda like BO's certified copy of his birth certificate posted online and with factcheck.org for all the world and their mama to see.

    December 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. ProfMike

    It seems we will always have illiterate lawyers who fail to read the Constitution and the 14th amendment. Anyone born in the US is a citizen. PERIOD!!

    December 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. Will in Richmond, VA

    Why does everyone keep saying that a birth cert hasn't been produced when Obama himself put it up on his website for everyone to see?

    December 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. kk

    Bill from AR, I'm not sure why your sister came back every couple of years to keep her citizenship. You don't lose American citizenship from living overseas, no matter how long. Also, factcheck.org found that Obama's birth announcement appeared in the Honolulu paper back in 1961. I don't expect that if he was born in Kenya, his family would have had the foresight to alert the vital statistics desk of a Honolulu paper (why? just in case a half-black kid whose parents could not even legally be married in 1/3 of the states at the time might take it into his head to become president?). As many commenters have noted, if the tin-foil hat nutjobbers pushing this story would turn to making positive contributions, the country would be a far better place.

    December 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Splendid One

    "Obama can't be president because he may not be a natural born citizen" translates, after weaving its way through some warped ids and egos, as "Obama can't be president because he's black." That unstoppable racist force is really trying hard to wriggle its way past the fact that Obama won :)

    December 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Noemi in Los Angeles

    Even IF he was from another country... so what? I'd take any better foreign president than the American of the last 8 years!! Booyah!

    December 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Annette

    Here's another person, trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.

    December 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Ken in NC

    @ Bill from AR

    Stupid is as Stupid does.

    December 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. C U

    Think about the presidential position these days. It's not like B.O. has to cut down trees to heat the US, or kill a deer, or fish, or work in the fields to feed all of us. B.O.'s primary function is to run his mouth it's really that simple. Let him have the picture and the nice wall plaque....... then let's move on!

    December 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. shameful

    Maybe this one will get posted:

    u dumb republicens our just mad that mccain lost the electiun and their is know way two have him win now that obama won and your just angry becuz your bitter and have nothing better two due then come and make frivulus lawsuits. obama is an american citezen and he would knot lye about that wood he? get over it, the facts our all their and theyre is no way that this wood knot have ben chekt out prior. duh, get a life losers.

    December 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Rick

    Almost the end of THE error! said:

    ........................And Barack was actually born in Hawaii…which by the way…is a state!

    That's correct......and according to Barack, Hawaii would be the 57th state.

    December 8, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Cindy

    For all those who don't like what happened on Nov 4th, get over it. Barack Obama is our president for the next 4 years. Heck, did you see this much buzz on Pres. Bush when he was elected 8 years ago. Let's talk about the mess he has gotten this country in and the war that begin under false pretence.
    Enough already people. This is a time to come together. I bet every one of of you know at least 1 person who has lost there job in the last 6 months if you aren't the actual person jobless at this time.

    December 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Toy

    So... the right's dead-enders have had yet another attempt to throw a monkey wrench into America's election process FOILED.

    So, in the interest of capitalism, someone should selle them some more ( to go with their over-abundant Kool aid supply.

    Wrenches, wrenches... get your red hot wrenches... you keep wasting em, and we'll keep selling em... get your red hot wrenches....(Monkey's cost extra)

    December 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Rocky

    Scott says, "The republicans are against the degradation of the constitution..." Are you kidding me? I had to re-read that to make sure I understood it. We just lived through 8 years of republicans hacking away at the Constitution, and suddenly you feel it has value? Can you say "warrantless wiretapping"? How about "water boarding and other means of torture"?

    Regarding the topic at hand, this non-issue is a waste of our time. If this argument had any validity, the GOP would have been all over it, and Barack Obama never would have survived the primaries.

    December 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Cori from Colorado

    To "Wake Up America",

    You said "the Grandmother is no longer alive. Isn't that a coincidence".

    Wow, you must be the dummest person alive to think that his grandmother died "coincendentally" around the time some moron is asking for his birth certificate. Yeah, she just decided to die so she wouldn't be questioned. You idiot.

    December 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. dick

    Frank and his friends are on to something. Unfortunately, they have the wrong bad guys. The McCain committee & RNC have a lot of money. They have an interest in investigating and publicizing any legal infirmities in the campaign or qualifications of Obama. Why are they silent? What do they know? They are hiding something. There is a cover-up and a conspiracy afoot. They know THE TRUTH about Obama; i.e. he is a properly qualified candidate for POTUS. They don't want Frank and the rest of us to know the truth. WHY NOT? They want to keep the Franks of the world wound up and excited. While Frank and the Obama rejectionists force the rest of us to expend effort and money denying that which does not exist, the RNC can continue under-cover searching out and concealing other truths. Frank, you are being hoodwinked. Don' be a victim.

    December 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Jon

    I am so glad this stupid motion has been put to rest by the Supreme Court. I guess that's the way some people are, once you believe in a conspiracy, you keep on believing in it no matter how much evidence to the contrary. I suppose we are to believe that such an important thing was actually not looked into before Obama got the green light to run for president. Some people need to wake up!

    December 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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