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. Kelly

    I have honestly never seen such a large number of people in this country spreading ridiculous lies and rumors as I have since Barack Obama started running for president.

    What in the world is wrong with people? There are comments on this post, now, on 12/8/08, saying that he still hasn't shown his birth certificate. HE HAS. Months ago! Where have you been? Why do you still believe this? People still say that he is "secretly" Muslim, and a couple of weeks ago my own mother repeated that lie that he wouldn't have gotten security clearance if he'd tried to get into the military. This is unbelievable.

    Why are so many Americans willing to believe without question any negative or bad rumor they hear about Barack Obama? Use logic and reason, people. You're making yourselves look like idiots.

    December 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. idm

    Hey "Once You Vote Black"- Where did you EVER get the notion that Jews have dual citizenship???? I have one citizenship, and that is American. I work in a Jewish agency and NO ONE here has dual citizenship. If you want an Israeli c-ship, you have to go apply and do all the work that's required. They don't just hand it to you.

    December 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. MLH

    Go Supreme Court! If this argument had a scintilla of merit, doesn't everyone figure the GOP would have been on it from the start? Wouldn't the Dems, in the year where the election was theirs to lose, have checked on this. Just sorry to hear that the courts are being tied up by such ridiculous issues.

    December 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Candice, CA

    Let's face it folks, idiots have a right to file a claim. That's what this country is all about. I know he wants what he wants and he's throwing a temper tantrum because he can't have "his choice", but he has a right to file.

    I voted for Barack, I was happy when Barack won, and I will be at the inauguration in the cold, cheering him on. This a a great country and the election of Barack Hussein Obama, just made it greater.

    God bless America and God bless BHO.

    December 8, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Jive Dadson

    I haven't followed the arguments of either side, but I keep wondering, why doesn't Obama just release all the documents? I read that Obama has spent a half million dollars in legal fees. Why doesn't he save all that money and just sign releases for his birth records and medical records? Anyone have a good answer?

    This is not going to go away until it's resolved. Let's say
    he is sworn in, and later vetoes a bill. Some party who suffered irreparable harm from the veto WILL sue. Count on it.

    December 8, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Hillary

    Don't people have anything better to do in this world than filing frivolous lawsuits. This one would be funny if it was not so pathetic.

    December 8, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Venia

    Hopefully the nuts will leave this alone. This is really disgusting and they should be ashamed of themselves but they're not. Still can't stand that a Black man is president, despite the fact that he may be one of the best things to happen to this country in a very very long time. He is already making brilliant decisions regarding his cabinet and his willingness to open up the government making it more transparent like no one has ever done before and yet they still pounce. I don't know what God you people worship but you can have him.

    December 8, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Phil in KC

    I have never understood this argument made by the radical right. Any Boy Scout who has taken Citizenship in the World knows there are 3 ways to be a citizen. By blood, by soil and by naturalization. In other words, you are either born to American parent(s), you are born in the US or you immigrate and go through the process to become a citizen. Since no one has questioned his mother's citizenship, that makes him a natural born citizen – whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya. My goodness, McCain was not born in the US; he was born in Panama. You didn't hear them questioning his citizenship.

    December 8, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. TjayeInLA

    Did this same man protest McCain's candidacy since he wasn't even born in the US?

    Typical Republican hypocrite.

    December 8, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. NY Republican

    To "the smart guy" – just as Obama was born to a US citizen in a US state and is for all intents and purposes (not "intensive purposes") a US citizen. John McCain was born to 2 US citizens in the then US territory of Panama and is for all intents and purposes (not "intensive purposes") . Can we all now send a vote of thanks to the US sumpreme court for their enlightened opinion (or lack there of) and finally put this non-sense to rest? Thank you SCOTUS!!!

    December 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. John Doe Esq. in NYC

    Since when is the Supreme Court referred to as SCOTUS??????

    December 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Pamela, IN

    Thank God, now let's move on, shall we?

    One...two...three....INAUGURATION OF BARACK OBAMA!

    Can't wait, don't hesitate...he's great.

    December 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Larry

    This will go on forever now-I just had hoped that a birth certificate proving his citizens ship could have been produced.

    December 8, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. BreAnna - Military Brat

    I'm glad the Supreme Court dismissed that. Now maybe all of the conspiracy theorists and ignorant people who believe every fowarded email and Youtube and those rediculous websites will all be at ease now. Yeah, right. I can't wait to see what else these people come up with to try to halt the POTUS elect's agenda. Not.

    December 8, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. John in Ohio

    I'm sure they'll take it to a higher court.

    Oh wait they did and they failed. Haha.

    I'm sure this won't keep lunatics on the far right from whining for 8 years about how Obama really isn't an American. Nothing can stop that.

    December 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. NYDEM

    Good to see the right wing SCOTUS did not take the opportunity to overturn the election. Just wish the radical left had stopped denying what SCOTUS let stand in 2000. Maybe SCOTUS really is non-partisan.

    December 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. Tammy - KCMO

    When will the GOP nutcases get over losing? If they don't like it there are plenty of other countries they can move to!

    December 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Dennis

    Amazing how many people are falling for the internet rumors that President-elect Obama is not actually an American citizen. Its rather sad.

    December 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. richard

    Theirs nothing more important than having our first ILLEGAL President. All he has to do is show the birth certificate. If he don't, it must be that that the evidence he was born in Kenya is true. Till then, he not my president.

    December 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. SHAME

    Thank SCOTUS for giving this attention it deserved. None. Our President Elect is Barack Hussein Obama. Donofrio and kind, can get on board with that or they can continue to conduct themselves in this child like manner...he's not a citizen, he's a socialist, he's a black man and they can't lead, yada yada yada. I am in full support of our PE and for those of you continue this "crap" you should be ashamed.

    December 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Matt

    Ah well, hopefully Obama's plans for the health care system include special attention for those with special needs, because the GOP certainly seems to need it.

    December 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. Minnesota

    Why are there still people begging to "show them this birth certificate"? You can google it and pull it up on MANY websites all over the internet. Its been talked about so much that we now have 1000's of copies of this birth certificate all over the web.

    So you fools that are trying to make the point that our new president is not a citizen because of the LACK of this document.... please find another arguement.

    ITS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! Just look it up....

    December 8, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Cori from Colorado

    If Barack wasn't born in the U.S., and wasn't allowed to run, this would've been resolved from the start, and the CIA would've revealed otherwise at that time.

    Those questioning his citizenship are angry right-wing conservatives who still can't accept the fact that the republican pary lost. Get over it, Ha!


    December 8, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Sarah, Northern Colorado

    This is for Lissa,

    What is meant by Jews having dual citizenship is that, technically speaking, if we, as American-born Jews, were to make Aliyah (move to Israel and work it out with the Israeli government), we would automatically be granted Israeli citizenship while still being able to keep our American citizenship. That said, I'm not sure about Canadian-born Jews.

    Hope that clears that question up.

    December 8, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Rae

    Just as it was when Clinton was in office it will be one thing after another with those on the right. Stir, stir, stir. Absolutely no concern for anything except power for them.

    December 8, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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