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

SCOTUS rejects appeal questioning Obama's citizenship

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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 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. Jersey Girl

    I do agree with some in that there are more important issues to read or report about, but we all decided that it was interesting enough to read and write about. More Importantly, the topic at hand. Obama's mother needed to be 21 years old at the time of his birth for him to be a citizen. She needed five years here she was 16 when she came here, 16+5=21 Thus, making him NOT a U.S. citizen. But should that strip him of his title of President? Do really have to be " a natural born citizen", or should your accomplishments mean more?

    December 8, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. MW in MD

    TO FRANK aka mediocre clown:

    You people are ridiculous! The minute Obama announced his run for the presidency you can bet that every intelligence agency was digging into his background. If he was not a citizen, we would know it by now!

    December 8, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Kim, Charlotte, NC

    How about taking the GOP to court for sending the country on a wild goose chase about the qualifications for becoming VP .....hint (Sarah Palin)!

    December 8, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Martha

    Do you not find it odd that a birth certificate cannot be produced. WHY NOT??

    December 8, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. The smart Guy

    Frank.. think for a second... When did this white woman from Kansas travel all the way to Kenya.. (which is pretty expensive and I am sure her father didn't fund the trip b/c he probably disagreeded with their relationship) 9 months pregnant to deliver a baby? Or was she with her mother and father in hawaii when the baby was conceived? Use your head and not the photo copied image of a authentic birth certificate. And for all intensive purposes, their are also rumors that McCain was actually not born in the United States. While we are at it, let's question his citizenship as well.

    December 8, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. TerryDo

    The Keepers of the Constitution (SCOTUS) have basically said, we have no need, of analyzing if Obama has a legitimate COLB.

    They seem to decree, the Obama-nation have selected Obama, these people have filthy rich old men , who desire to bring America to her knees and then destroying her.

    And you Citizens of United States of America, shall have no guardians; and even when you cry out and gnaw away with your teeth, you will have no allayer.

    Know thee well America; the end is near when the last bastion (SOCTUS) of a nation has been destroyed.

    Heaven help the rest of the world!

    December 8, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. aware

    PEBO needs to produce his birth certificate. Why seal legitimate birth records? 🙂

    December 8, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Rick

    To all of you dems that are saying this is not a big deal and we shouldn't bother with it. I personally take Obama at his word that he was born in Hawaii but, hey, just produce the birth certificate and be done with it. What is he hiding? And if he wasn't born in the U.S. then we have that pesky little document called the Constitution that expressly states that he cannot be the President. Produce the certificate and put an end to all of this.

    December 8, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Robin in SC

    These lawsuits are so ridiculous...just right wing desperation. Think about it...all of the federal, state, and private organizations that would have to have been involved in a cover-up from the day Obama was born until today. Why would this have been done? Did someone have a crystal ball that told them when he was born that Obama would be a viable candidate for POTUS and start covering up then??? The sad part is that otherwise well educated people actually believe this of the docs I work for circulated a video about these suits during the election. I'm actually surprised to see this in mainstream news, but glad if it can be debunked for good!

    December 8, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. jean brandt

    While reasonable and results-oriented politicians and citizens on both sides will work to put this country back in order, folks on the extreme right will only continue to drone on and on about how much they hate Obama and continuing with the childish variations of his name, ignorant suggestions of lack of citizenship, socialist, terrorist, Bill Ayers and the usual lies.

    December 8, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Len

    Hey Frank,

    You have a real problem.

    December 8, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Survival of the Fittest

    cattlecar and frank:

    You guys need serious help. It's either you read but cannot comprehend or you just dumb and dumber. Have you taken your meds, lately?

    December 8, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Hall for Obama

    Obama will be the Prisident of the USA come hell or high water, so get over it

    December 8, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Mick Jogger

    This Leo Dumbofrio guy needs to be sent to Iraq immediately.
    How is it that dumb fools like Leo Dumbofrio get to stay home while our soldiers risk their lives for him? I say send him to Iraq or arrest him immediately for his dumbness!!!

    December 8, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Lissa

    "Once you vote black" wrote: Jews have dual citizenship.

    Really? I'm Jewish and I'm Canadian born. I am only a citizen of Canada. Where did you ever hear that religion dictates citizenship?

    This whole case regarding President-Elect Obama's citizenship was bogus. It was an attempt by the pitbulls who can't let go of their loss to overturn a decisive victory. It never should have GONE to the Supreme Court but the justices did the right thing.

    Get on with it, people – this is another smear tactic even after the fact. The barn door's closed, y'all!

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Anna

    Watch for the Berg case to come up. That is the one that challenges his place of birth and subsequent move to Indonesia, which required his mother to renounce their citizenship. And if the fed court justice hadn't hid behind "standing" then he could have settled this before the election. If Berg, a Democrat, challenged his own party's processes that allowed an unqualified candidate to run for president, how can he not have standing?
    I don't want to see Obama removed now that we had the election, but it is too bad Soros and company were allowed to manipulate our system this way.

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Illegitimate birth certificate

    Who would dare claim the election was illegitimate?
    Of a Democrat, that is.

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. Not "natural born" but OK About It

    Donofrio's suit had better logic than most, and totally legal grounds.

    Berg is a Hillary supporter and a Democrat and a dues paying member of NAACP. I don't know how that makes him "right wing" since Hillary singled out the "vast right wing conspiracy" being the source of all the "lies" about Bill and Monica. Let's get our stories straight?

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Christopher, Madison, WI

    Martha for the last time, shut off FoxNoise. There has been a birth certificate produced. You are obviously not aware of this but there is a process prospective candidates must go through in order to enter into the general election for the position of President of the United States. Wake up sweetie your not in Bush's bubble anymore!

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. drisboss

    Give us a break!! Is this all you can find on this guy??? And all of you "pretenders to even basic intelligence" – you don't even know where YOU were born!!! No one knows!!! We can't know!!! Someone has to tell us!!! You are newborn! You are not cognizant of where you are/who you are/etc., etc.

    So – if you're my age (47) and you have no video or pictures, how do we know that YOU are a U.S. citizen?? Just because a piece of paper that anyone could type up says so! Maybe YOU are an illegal alien!!

    December 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Good job, Supreme Court! This whole situation is just plain stupid and there are much more important matters to worry about, such as THE ECONOMY!!!

    December 8, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. kevin mcclellan

    Donofrio must not have been a very good lawyer. Citizenship qualifications are taught in most high schools and most people know if you are born here you are a citizen even if someone else recognizes you as a citizen of their country and most know that youare a citizen if you have one parent who is a citizen. If you follow Donofrio all the Presidents before Van Buren did not qualify because they British citizens upon birth since there was no USA. Would that make all the laws prior to him unconstitutional since those laws would have been signed by an unqualified President.

    December 8, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. zzzzzz

    @ Frank

    You sound like a fool !

    December 8, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Saad from NJ

    I didn't know our economic troubles and recession hit the law industry as well.... that this lawyer does not only have no cases or clients, but he does have a life either.... go get married, produce children and accupy yourself with them..... lol..

    December 8, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Change_Has_Begun

    Oh! Shut Up! Get over it and get a life. Whether you like it or not Obama is our President. You think Obama would be crazy enough to run for President had he not been born in the US. His record has been thoroughly investigated by the Clintons and the Republican Party.

    December 8, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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