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. Monique Perkins

    I'm very happy the Supreme Court made the right decision. As far as Obama being born in Kenya, how can any of those right wing radicals say that? Were they there when his mother gave birth? Furthermore, birth certificates are private documents.

    Now let Obama do his job of bringing this nation back together and solving the problems facing this nation.

    December 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. MIke for LA

    What drives me crazy is that this folks asking Obama to produce his birth certificate, oh yea he is hiding something. IF YOU THINK OBAMA WAS ACTUALLY BORN IN KENYA THEN BRING A PROVE ALL YOU HAVE GOT IS HE SAID SHE SAID. Of cause Obama's grandmama was there when her son was born in Kenya, because his name was Barack Obama Sr. So let court do their work and if you have a prove stating that Obama was born elsewhere, bring it to the court. I wonder why he retired from being a lawyer cuz he just stupid, because he should at least know that in court the only thing that work is Documents. IF you don't have it Well to bad see u later

    December 8, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Wonderful

    The real issue was that McCain wasn't born in the USA but on a US Military Base on foreigh soil.

    But that issue is over and done with.

    December 8, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. STL-Veteran


    Can you note read, I don't won't to be rude but the State of Hawaii has already stated that they have is original birth certificate on file...what more do you need. And for that matter why doesn't everyone complaing about wanting to see BO's birth certificate post it on the net for everyone else to see.

    December 8, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. yeah, these are the same folk who voted for Palin!

    Why do these right wing nuts continue to challenge Obama's legitimacy? Is the left wing going to court because Palin is a corrupt moron? No. These people don't have a leg to stand on, yet they continue to make absurb attempts to attack Obama.

    Please, give it up already. Obama is our 44th President! Oh, and it's President OBAMA. Get used to it.

    December 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Love My USA/Do You?

    Why does BO need 3 Law firms to block the investigations in proving
    his cititzenship. Just show us the Birth Certificate.
    When you apply for a drivers license, don't you have to bring your Birth Certificate (origianal with a seal).
    Something smells here.....

    BO supporter with doubts......

    December 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Matt

    @ Get Your Facts and...

    The proof has been obtained and shown. It was there for all to see. Moreover, the birth certificate (yes, the original) was no doubt inspected by appropriate authorities. This is very typical of the GOP over the past decade: they ignore inconvenient facts and contrary evidence and fabricate new "facts" to claim are true. Sorry, but the FACT is, the evidence exists and has been examined. Whether this last individual has a right to demand personal inspection of the original birth certificate is one thing, but the FACT is that Obama is a NATURAL BORN citizen. You're deluding yourself to continue thinking that there's any chance on God's green earth that it will be proven otherwise.

    December 8, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Ron.Toronto. Canada

    For Jeff.
    You are right. I might add .If your father is in the armed forces,
    your mother is living with him, on a base, in a foriegn country.and you are born in a base hospital. You are an American Citizen.

    December 8, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. THEO

    Re: The Smart Guy "disagreeded" and "And for all intensive purposes".

    Crack a book once in a while and act like you have been someplace......please.

    December 8, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Skye

    There is so much ignorance in this comment section it is astounding. Have any of you even looked at the suits? The Berg case, who by the way is a Democrat, alleged that the certificate of live birth that was placed on the web was a fraud and Berg had many, many, pieces of evidence to show that this was so. When required by the courts to produce a real birth certificate (not a certificate of live birth using a recent computer font that didn't exist when Obama was born), Obama did not produce these documents. He got his real, original documents locked up in Hawaii so nobody could see them. What is he hiding? The burden of proof is on him and he REFUSES to reveal the truth. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But you moronic sheep think it is only "right-wingers" or "conspiracy nuts" etc. ad nauseum that are "bitter" or whatever else – this is a matter of the LAW and of finding the TRUTH. Is that too hard for your little minds to comprehend? This is not a right vs. left, mudslinging, upset-over-the-results-of-the-election effort. This is confronting the compelling evidence that Obama was actually born in Kenya and trying to get that settled. Also, for your information, being a natural born citizen is different from being a NATURALIZED citizen. In order to be president, under the law, you must be a NATURAL BORN citizen for which Obama has not proven to the American public that he is. And no, I am not a McCain supporter or a Republican, so stop forcing everyone into your little stereo-type fantasy because you are ignorant of the facts of the case and of the issue at hand. Do you not think it is important to get to the bottom of this issue? Ignorance, that is what abounds here.

    December 8, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Actually I was for neither candidate. I feel Americans do not really have a choice other than what's placed before them by both parties in an election year. Someday hopefully we will have a good strong independent party then at least there would be three choices to choose from. I do think it's going to be interesting at just how high the new president's rock star status held by the media, and a lot of frenzied voters will be in the next four years. I'l be willing to bet there going to be some real mind changing situations coming up soon.

    December 8, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. John in Ohio

    "Get Your Facts and Logic Straight": The proof has been produced repeatedly. Go to, it's all right there. Pictures and everything. If you don't believe that, go to Hawaii yourself.

    Do you hold everyone up to this standard? McCain? Bush? Clinton? Reagan? Or are you profiling?

    December 8, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Kona

    They called him a socialist, a communist, the anti-Christ, a Marixst, accused of him of links to terrorism, and now non-citizen. You people are insane. Never has any candidate gone through such scrutiny.

    It gives me great joy in laughing at you idiots everytime your efforts to hurt a good man flop so miserably.

    December 8, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. People...

    cattlecar December 8th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

    The Congress is responsible for the review of elligibility for the office of President. Votes are meaningless if the candidate does not meet the Constitutional requirements. Obama had his birth records in Hawaii sealed for a reason. The Birth Certificate on file there is stamped Kenya. The certificate of live birth is stamped Hawaii. Obama is not elegible for the office. His signature on a bill will be worth no more than mine.

    You sir/ma'am are an I.D.10.T. Check and look at the crystal clear pictures of the ACTUAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!!

    Oh, and for your information there son was born in Germany, at a German Hospital. But guess what...he's an American Citizen. Would you like to know why? I'll give ya just one guess...Because I'm an American!!!

    December 8, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Scott

    Why am I not surprised that the Obamacons hang their hats on the possibly falsified document that is shown on the democratic website. We have an issue at hand where the new president of the United States is the type of person that would seal all of the documents that would either clear him or convict him. Both in Hawaii and at Harvard. I would imagine that if these documents would clear him, he would drive them in himself. The real problem is that the words written in the constitution have no meaning to many people of the democratic party. In addition, you make yourselves sound unintelligent and uninformed by making silly statements on this site. The republicans are not against Obama. The republicans are against the degradation of the constitution and merely question the ability of Obama to carry out the careless promises he has made to the public for one simple get elected. For all of our sake, I hope he can accomplish one tenth of what he has promised. Incidentally, he is off to a bad start with his recent attempts at foreign relations.

    December 8, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Sharon Kitchen

    PLEASE......................................................TAKE A BREATH..............................................................................................................................NOW ARE YOU ALL BETTER???????????????????????
    Good greif.

    December 8, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. John in Ohio

    Do people really think that a Bush-controlled CIA and FBI wouldn't have dug it up if Obama wasn't really an American citizen?

    Or does the conspiracy go that far up?

    December 8, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. Lia

    doesn't matter if his parents were from Saturn and Neptune. Neither parents need be a citizen. He was born in the U.S. (Hawaii) that is all that is necessary.

    Also, being born in another country and having a parent that is a U.S. Citizen does not make you a "natural born citizen". But again that doesn't matter either in this case because he was born in Hawaii.

    December 8, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Sensible Cape Coral Fl

    Hey: Mike in LA

    What school did you go? Whatever one it was, you should definitely go back and try to learn something.

    December 8, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Sue

    WHY ??!!
    Why Obama refused to show his birth Certificate??
    He is hiding something !!!

    December 8, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Bill from AR

    John McCain was born in Panama on a US base to an American mother and father. A US base on any soil is deemed American soil.

    Barack Obama was born to an American mother and a Kenyan father with British citizenship. IF he was born in Hawaii or anywhere else on US government property, he can claim American citizenship. The question is was he actually born in Hawaii. It seems strange to me that the original birth certificate hasn't been shown. That would pull the rug out from under those filing suit.

    My sister (American citizen) lived overseas for twenty years, coming back to the states every so often to keep her citizenship. She married a non-American. When she became pregnant and ready to deliver, she flew back to her house in the states to give birth so that the child would have American citizenship. The same would be the case with Obama's mother. Did she make it back to Hawaii before Barack was born? That is the question being raised.

    December 8, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. C. Gadd Illinois

    The person that suggests that the president-elect is not a natural born citizen because his father was not is then stating that any person born in the United States with parents that are not here legally is not a natural born/legal citizen and does not have any rights. His mother is a natural born citizen. I think people that do not like the way the election went will try anything to stop what is righteous.

    December 8, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Matt

    @ Skye

    Voted for Hillary, didn't you.

    December 8, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. John in Ohio

    1. If he was not legally qualified to be president, don't you think the CIA would have dug that up by now?
    2. The lower court ruled that the case was without merit. This Berg guy, who I'm sure isn't really a "Democrat" (or he is in the way that Zell Miller is a Democrat), appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's decision by refusing to hear the case.
    3. If the courts, from the bottom to the top, have dismissed this case, that means that legally there is insufficient evidence, and legally, by the laws of our nation, the claim is without legal merit. So, this is indeed a matter of THE LAW, and THE LAW has ruled. Obama is a natural born citizen, and he will be inaugurated president.

    December 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Jason

    RE: Facts and Logic:

    You make a great point about the specific phrase in the Constitution – "natural born citizen."

    Few would argue that Arnold S is precluded by this language. And there are many here who have rightly pointed out that being born to an American citizen (regardless of place of birth) is sufficient for citizenship. But is such a person a "natural born citizen?" The language of the Constitution isn't explicit about this situation, hence the lawsuit.

    In light of this, why the big fuss about producing a birth certificate? It doesn't really solve any questions until there is first clarification/interpretation of the language.

    December 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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