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. Joyce

    I have a friend whose parents are both citizen of Mexico. She was born here – California to be specific – and carries American Citizenship. A natural born Citizen.

    Barrack definitely meets the criteria. Stop wasting the court and people's time. Citizenship by birth is what he's got. That's what counts. Geez.

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

    When will it end. This is a waste of time and energy. Face it. Obama is a citizen so he will be our next President. That is it. That is all she wrote. The birth certificate has been produced. Only idiots are still questioning whether it is legit.

    December 8, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Lets Hope that we end this SILLINESS. Some people just can not feel loss. To bad that the rest of us have to be subjected to this nonsense.

    December 8, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Matt

    These things are all just a ruse to undermine Obama's credibility. They don't have to succeed as long as they make a large handful of complete morons around the country think they were legitimate claims. It's dirty, filthy, self-serving, narrow-minded, baseless nonsense like this that America voted against on Nov. 4th, sending a very loud and clear message to the GOP and its rank and file members. Unfortunately, they appear not to have heard it.

    December 8, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. No Hillary = No Obama

    Too bad.

    December 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Jeff

    It is amazing that people think they have to see a birth certificate. In case you weren't paying attention, it was on Obama's campaign websited for everyone to see. Now the neocons are claiming there is no birth certificate. The law clearly states if you are born of a parent who is a US citizen, you are yourself a US citizen. A grade school friend of mine was born in Germany. Her parents were US citizens but that didn't make her a German citizen. She was an American!

    Get real and get over it. And, by the way, tell W that this election was what you call a mandate!

    December 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Where is Donofrio from? Where were his paretns born.... or grandparents? His he really a citizen or one of those Republican "not one of us" types?

    Why won't these people get a life and leave the world alone?

    December 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Matt

    That should read "In re: The Matter of Boo Hoo v. Rational Thought"

    December 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Ashley from Charlotte

    Ken from Dallas, although what you say is correct in most cases, if both your parents are U.S. citizens, this does not immediately declare your right to citizenship in the United States.

    December 8, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. LisaB

    yeah...nice try...

    December 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    I'm surprise this made it as far as the Supreme Court; that should be looked into; how is this lawyer have such power to get a case like this in front of the supreme court's doorstep is beyond me...

    December 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. Chris

    @ Cattlecar

    Well that makes perfect sense; I know lots of dirt poor mixed race parents that fly to Africa to give birth in a third world country with sub-standard medical care.

    December 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. Matt

    @ Bill, Charlotte, NC

    To answer your question: because they think they own it.

    December 8, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  14. Gia in Los Angeles, CA

    If there were any legitimate question over Obama's citizenship, don't you thing that would have been pursued first by Hillary Clinton and later by John McCain and Sarah Palin? All three of them tried every trick in the book when they were running against him, including misrepresentations. If it were true, he would have been discredited right from the start!

    December 8, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. John Tate

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

    I agree! It is sad that people who were dumb enough to vote for Bush (twice!) were allowed to vote again. And it's absolutely hillarious such a person should think anybody should give their thoughts one second of consideration rather than ten minutes of laughter.

    December 8, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Ron.Toronto. Canada

    The President elect Obama is not American,so not the future
    President. Dubya and Jeb fixed the 2000 election but Dubya made
    President. I gotta tell ya. You neocons are something else.

    December 8, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. HouseDiva

    He's a US natural born citizen...get over it neo-cons. You lost fair and square.

    December 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Former Democrat

    It's a legitimate constitutional question that must be answered.

    Just provide the documents to the Court Barry and be done with it.

    December 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Get Your Facts and Logic Straight

    To Ken in Dallas – You might want to actually read the Constitution before you start spouting off.

    The Constitution doesn't say you have to be merely a *citizen*. It says you have to be a "natural born citizen". There's a big difference. If there weren't, Arnold S could run because he is now a citizen, but was born in Austria.

    The bigger issue is (1) whether all you fools are content to be spoon fed the party line without any proof that ought to be extremely easy to produce (yet hasn't) and (2) whether you think the Constitution is actually an important document – indeed the law of the land. If your first answer is Yes or your second is No, then you can go on in your happy, ignorant ways. For those of us, however, for whom truth and the Constitution matter, this is an important and valid question.

    Please stop being condescending – especially when you don't know the underlying law and certainly don't know or even have any basis for knowing the truth surrounding this issue.

    December 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. paulie_nj

    The question really is, "Why doesn't Obama just produce the ORIGINAL birth certificate?". Seems preety simple to me. Instead he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees to have the cases dismissed instead of just paying the $12 to gain access to the original document. And for those who havn't taken the time to notice, Philip Berg is a lifetime Democrat so blaming this on the GOP is just plain ignorant. Instead of defending Mr. "I can do no wrong" Obama why not just get him to produce the document? The certificate of live birth that was posted on his website is not valid. There are items blocked out on it and it clearly states at the bottom that any alterations to it deem it invalid.

    December 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Steve, From FL

    To Itva. You sound just like frank, like a fool. Can you tell why these babies born to illegal aliens are a bigger threat to our country? Babies born and raised with the influence of our culture, educated in our schools, a big threat!! Is obvious you have no clue what you're talking about, but please tell us your rationale.

    December 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. MikeH


    You got issues bud, go seek professional help before the voices in your head tell you to do something bad.

    December 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Morgan

    Dumbest lawsuit I have seen in a long time. debunked this myth a long time ago and he put his birth certificate online. What more do people want?

    December 8, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. D. A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Not only this "gentleman" was questioning President Elect Obama's citizenship, he was question mine. My father is a retired USAF MSGT and my mother is from England and I was born in Michigan. What he was telling me that I am not an American. He was questioning the citizenship of every miltiary brat whose background is similar to mine and President Elect Obama's.

    December 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. F.Johnson.

    This birth record business is so far beyond stupid. I would be willing to bet, that half of the dimwits that are ranting and raving did not show up at the polls to vote their choice. News flash .The election is over..

    December 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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