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. Pete

    To all the folks who question the BC – has pictures, and they attest that they've touched it. They have a birth announcement from a Hawaiian newspaper. If that's not good enough, then I doubt your citizenship too so just pack up and leave the country, please. Thanks.

    December 8, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Get Over It!?

    To those who agree with the comment below: "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!"

    Tell me why the angry left-wing liberals can't accept the vote and will of the people of California on Proposition 8 (AFTER 30 other states voted similarly, and we didn't see any major HATE adds against the citizens that supported those referendum issues). Here truly is a case of "they can't get over it."

    Liberal hypocriticism, as usual. (("Hypocriticism" is not a word . . . it was created intentionally, perfect for this occasion.))

    December 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. greg greenman

    What people don't understand is, there are some serious background checks that go on before you can be president. Do you all honestly think that they are just going to let anyone run for president? Come on. They go through a vetting process themselves. If you aren't going to make your judgement based on facts at least make them based on common sense.

    December 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Jo-Ann

    Why haven't I heard in any other presidential election about "birth certificates"...PEOPLE PLEASE GET A LIFE...


    December 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Jason

    Mr. Donfrio's suit (as far as I understand) also contends that John McCain and Roger Calero did not meet the requirement of "natural born citizen," and should not have appeared on the ballot.

    I do find it interesting, however, that those who cry loudest about "activist judges" make appeals to said judges when elections (2000, 2008) don't turn out the way they wanted.

    December 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Ohio Dem

    Hey Cattlecar and Frank,

    Have you been drinking the kool aid again?

    December 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. KOOKOO Va

    This replied goes to Frank , Barrack about Burrack Heritage in Slavery I don't know if you were hearing your self when you wrote
    2. President Elect Barrack Obama heritage is White American and Original African !!!!
    2. He might not have not gone throuhg Slavely or Civil right suffering of Black Americans, does he have to pay a price for that ?
    3. you asked about President Elect ancestory ? he is Original African ancestory , and a White Mother from Kansas.
    The next time you write think first, before you write, and do not write from your berry.

    Thank you

    December 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Eve

    "Jews have dual citizen ship, does that mean a Jew born in the US cannot be president?"
    Uh? Jews do not have dual citizenship unless they are, perhaps, citizens of Israel, which not every Jewish person is.

    This is why we get such frivilous lawsuits – besides the fact that people are bitter, it's also that people are uneducated and unwilling to research things before chattering their head off about them.

    December 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Someone needs to get a Life!

    It is obvious the right has nothing better to do with their time... pathetic... and the wonder why they lost...


    December 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Jon in SF

    If we are going to look at Obama's birth certificate, can I get copies of Palin and Bush's college degrees and IQ tests?

    December 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Morgan

    I can't prove this, but I suspect that if the birth certificate was indeed taken out of the vault and verified by all the relevant authorities, examined by the best forensic scientists and the best lawyers in United States, and if then, one of these doubters were to actually be in the room with these people holding the ceritificate in his/her own hands, that person would then say it was a fake and call the whole thing a conspiracy anyway.

    Call me kooky.

    December 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. iwannatalk2

    Well if he did steal the election- IT'S OUR TURN TO!!!!!!! BUSH STOLE THE LAST ONE, AND LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED TO US!!!!


    ps- I just love the fact that Sarah Palin had the nerve to talk about the real america when her husband is part of an organization supporting Alaska to secede from the union. She didnt even want to be a part of the country that she was running for office for. I'm telling y'all- somebody better sit that crazy broad down!

    December 8, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Truth Be Told

    ...I wonder how much taxpayers money was wasted over this non-issue...

    December 8, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Lost in Texas

    I'm guessing the right-wing Obama haters here just don't follow the old rule, "I'd rather be quiet and have people think I'm stupid than open my mouth and prove it"! Well you guys have at least 4 or maybe 8 years to be the meantime it seems that there are a bunch more in the country and the world no less that are willing and excited to accept Obama as our 44th president. Even the SCOTUS got it right this time, although I'm guessing maybe Justice Thomas would have been willing to hear the case.

    December 8, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Its The One 01 20 2009

    They were pleased with the last 8 years and wanted more of same to continue Isn't that a fact Frank /cattlecar ?

    December 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Patrick

    I would bet that this idiot didn't question the legitimacy of Bush's stolen election in 2000. Pathetic.

    December 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. eb

    Poor Frank–delusional and clueless.

    December 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. Vicki5

    I hope the plaintiff's in both cases have to pay attorney fees and costs when their cases are DISMISSED. That is one risk of filing bogus lawsuits, and I hope this one costs them more than they were expecting.

    December 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. lindsey

    Funny how people scream that this guy is a right wing nut job who is whining about "his guy" not winning. If they actually new about the story, they would know the lawyer that filed the claim is a life-long registered democrat. It has nothing to do with "his guy". It has everything to do with the constitution. Yes, Obama was born in the US. Yes, he went to school in Indonesia at a time when only Indonesian citizens were allowed in school. No, Indonesia and the US did not have a dual citizenship agreement bach then. Yes, Obama would have had to give up his US citizenship to go to school in Indonesia. Yes, he would have had to reapply to get back his US citizenship. Yes, that means his citizenship status is technically different than a native born citizen. Yes, that disqualifies him from being president.

    December 8, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Mrs Mays

    Frank, FOCUS. Obama won okay. If he didn't meet the qualifications he never would have run, okay. President-Elect Obama knew his constitutional rights. He taught on rights, race and gender at the University of Chicago. He is NO DUMMY. THAT'S WHY HE WON!!!

    December 8, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Bill

    I really don't understand why so many GOP supporters have a tough time digesting the will of the people. The fact is the GOP is now a minority party, their fearless leader has the lowest approval rating in history, and thw American people have spoken out overwhelmingly for President-Elect Obama. Deal with it, morons!

    December 8, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. K least the man tried to get rid of him in a legal manner!! Hopefully someone will find something to keep him from destroying our nation!!!

    December 8, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Joel

    Obama was not born in the US...he was born on Krypton and his father Jor-El sent him here to save the United States from the evil Rovians...LOL

    December 8, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Gene

    To Frank who said:

    show me the birth certificate, show it to me!
    signed by an MD in Hawaii….
    you won't see it!

    Its not enough that it's been scanned, put all over the internet, and has been verified by multiple sources to be official and legitimate... you actually want to see it? Ok.. go fly down to Hawaii.. go to the county recorder's office, and see it for yourself. If you're not willing to do it.. then shut up. I don't know how many times his birth certificate has to be scanned at how many angles before some of these conservatives finally take a breath and admit that the guy was born in Hawaii.

    December 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Kelly

    People will do anything to get their 5 minutes of fame.

    December 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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