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. Iowa Mom


    Obama had his birth records in Hawaii sealed for a reason.

    Um, no Hawaii seals all of their birth records.

    December 8, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Blake Kirk

    Sectiion One of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

    " All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

    Which means that ANY person born in the United States is a citizen of the United States, no matter what the nationality or immigration status of that person's parents.

    Given that Hawaii became a state in August 1959, it would seem that if Mr Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, then he is a native-born citizen within the meaning of the Constitution.

    If these individuals who believe that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya have any evidence that supports that belief, let them produce it.

    December 8, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Dannymono

    The law is plain in this case:
    "In many/most cases, a child born outside the US to a US citizen or citizens is a US citizen by birth and, in the opinions of most legal scholars, qualifies as a "natural born" citizen eligible to become President or Vice-President. A child born abroad under these circumstances is a US citizen by birth (in addition to possibly being a citizen of the country of birth). The "consular report of birth abroad" is not a bestowal of US citizenship, but simply an acknowledgment of same."
    In other words, enven if Obama was born outside of the United States, he is still a natural born citizen by virture of his natral mother, who was a US citizen at the time of his birth. This is why the Supreme Court dismissed this case wihout comment.

    December 8, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. An Idle Mind is...

    ...the devil's playground. Now that's exactly what a retired lawyer in New Jersey will do. Flex brain cells on leap-frogging-common sense.

    At least we can say this one is still useful; only he should use his left-over skills serving food to the homeless rather than mess with or struggle to distinguish the smell his own feaces from that of the previous occupant of the lavertory.

    December 8, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. LetItGo

    Those 2 nuts are just that. Anyone who tries to prove the President Elect was not born in America and has a forged birth certificate, or certificate of birth, is just plain crazy.

    Like a previous poster said, read the facts on this subject at

    And another note to these crackpots – I suppose the birth announcement in the local paper, printed a few days after his BIRTH, is also a forgery? Riiiiiight. The conspiracy started back then! They began their plotting when Obama was an infant, and planted the false information in the birth announcement page of the local paper just days after his birth!

    Give me a break! Let's hope this waste of time and money is finally at an end.

    December 8, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Once you vote Black

    Frank, Frank Frank!
    Obama is the best of African Americans. African so he has not tie to US Slavery and therefore no grudge, and American with white blood so he has the best blood we have to offer. Why must a blackman have to have been a slave in order to be considered a real African American?

    December 8, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Rebekah A.

    These people are NUTS! Get over it! Can anyone say "SORE LOSER???"

    December 8, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Barbara, FL

    Martha, no one in the past 20 years has an original birth certificate, all states issue "abstracts" as documents for vital statistics. Original BC's and DC's are only available to the named parties on said certificate, or relatives and only with affidavits and notary sig.
    Write to the Vital Records Division in the state you were born in and see what they send you!

    December 8, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. CC

    1. This lawsuit was filed months ago in the federal circuit court; it has only now reached the Supreme Court. This is not a "post-election crybaby" issue.

    2. Obama has produced a computer-generated certification of birth without an official seal. This document is not a certified copy, and thus is not a valid form of identification.

    3. Citizens who care about the rule of law are entitled to ask for a presidential candidate's qualifications. When that campaign repeatedly refuses to satisfy these requests, a genuine question as to what they are hiding arises.

    4. There is circumstantial evidence that Obama was born in Kenya. There are also eyewitness affidavits at the plaintiff's disposal.

    5. Obama's political ideology, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with this lawsuit. The Constitution requires that the President be a natural-born citizen. If this is not the case, then a violation of the law has occurred and someone must answer for it.

    December 8, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Milhouse van Houten

    Don't you people remember,he admitted he was from Krypton.Surely
    enough time has been spent on this non-item.

    December 8, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. BeefyDaddy

    Unbelievable. So desperate. That's the problem with conspiracists, no matter how much evidence is presented, they just cannot accept the truth. If it does not fit into their view, it is just discarded or they create a reason to discredit it. They never accommodate the new information into their own views and evolve. I guess tinfoil hats will always be popular to some.

    December 8, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Once you vote Black

    Lizza perhaps I am wrong gut a Jew I went to High School once bragged that because he is US and Jewish he had dual citizenship. I know that Ghana has granted dual citerzenship to any African American who wants it. Perhaps I am wrong, but perhaps you are and don't know it. Might be worth looking into it. They may grant it by you have to apply for it, or this kid might have been wrong.

    December 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Theaxman

    You people are so naive. I know the real story that is being covered up by the press, the DNC and Trilateral Commission. Obama's British roots come from the fact he is the result of a one-night stand between his Kenyan father and Margaret Thatcher (why do you think she always wore big coats). After BO was born, he was shipped over to Hawaii (afterall except for Don Ho, nothing of prominence has ever come out of there) and placed with a woman from Kansas (Kansas).

    Think about it, anyone that would have knowledge is gone (dad, mom, grandparents, doctor). I would write more, but I need to step out of my bunker for a minute to go check out the black helicopters.

    "The truth is out there."

    December 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Leatherneck

    This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Does anyone truly believe that he would have gotten this far with out having his records checked properly. You right wing wacko's need to get a life.

    December 8, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. BBB

    This guy must be related to the lawyer who was suing for over $3 million for his pants that were supposedly ruined at the cleaners!

    And they wonder why the legal profession has such a bad reputation?!

    December 8, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Mark, MO

    To Martha and Frank,

    Obama's Birth Certificate has been produced MANY times to many different people, news organizations and others. It has even been posted to the internet.

    The sad fact is people like yourself would claim the Constitution of the United States is a fake because you couldn't hold the actual document in your hands.

    In otherwords nothing will convince you. Not even proven facts. I honestly feel sad for people like this.

    December 8, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Michelle, PA

    Just because a few people like to wear tinfoil hats and disseminate conspiracy theories on extremist websites, that does not make their fantasies a reality. Show some real evidence, you might get a hearing on the merits of that evidence and the legal question it may point to. Until then Berg, Donofrio and the others cannot meet the burden of proof to survive a motion to dismiss, let alone a case. The Supreme Court was 100% correct in their pro forma rejection of a stay.

    December 8, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Treatment

    No one, absolutely no one, on the planet earth should be given special treatment. He is no "god." Sooner or later the truth, and the whole truth, will come out. Just sit back and relax! Nothing, absolutely nothing, will escape God's judgment and wrath. History is our witness. They all are human, what do we expect bettter?

    December 8, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. Greed is not good

    The Republicans are desperate...yet again

    December 8, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. AJKA

    @frank December 8th, 2008 12:33 pm ET

    "....sad that dumb people are allowed to vote…..but that is the system we have!….."

    Same could be said about the idiots like you who post on these threads. Grow up, educate yourself!!

    December 8, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Richard Rohde

    You can see from the Democrats responses you are not allowed to question anything about Hussein. The chosen one. The messiah. He was brought to us by the same people who brought us Charlie Rangel, William Jefferson, Kwame Kilpatrick, and has been annointed by the media to lead us in to the 2nd Carter Administration.

    December 8, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Eric

    The common sense answer to this problem is for President Elect Obama to just produce a original \ signed by a doctor or hospital staff Certificate of Live Birth.

    December 8, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Doug R.

    Obama has been elected legitimately and overwhelmingly. He smeared McCain and Palin all over the map on 11/04/08. You're a moron if you really believe he's not a native born American. And by the way, John McCain ws born in Panama. Obama will be the next President. If you don't like it, get out of the United States!!

    December 8, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Matt

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! And the jerkwads who brought the ridiculous suit in the first place thought they could rely on their neocon brethren Roberts and Alito to pull it into the Sup. Ct. and make an insane decision. Can't wait to watch the same nonsense take place regarding Clinton and the Emoluments Clause. Give it up you swine!!!

    December 8, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Michael Bindner

    Even IF everything that had been alledged by the plaintiff were correct, the children of Americans born abroad are still considered to be naturally born, so there is no possibility of a case. Given that Fact Check has already seen the birth certificate, all such efforts to prove otherwise are an attempt to justify right wing whacko fundraising, nothing more.

    December 8, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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