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. Lynn in NM

    We certainly don't want to find out the truth.

    December 8, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. Aaron from Ohio

    Barack Obama's father's name was also Barack Obama. When President-elect Obama's paternal grandmother said Barack was born in Kenya, the wing nuts did their little victory dance and claimed it was the son she was talking about, not the father. These people will twist and distort anything because they can't come to terms with having a liberal black man as their president. Let them keep their fantasies alive and waste their time and money. At least it keeps them off the streets.

    December 8, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Al, NY NY

    @LoveMyUSA/DoYou? This sounds like a typical xenophobic GOP lemming's rant. Their mantra is "you're with us or against us." GIVE IT UP! Obama is the president. You have 4 years to rant and hopefully 8 (especially if that dimwitted Palin is run in 2012) so get used to seeing "President Obama" Say it to yourself....."President Obama." That's a good little lemming....

    December 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Hilary

    Ha, ha. Choke on that, Donofrio!

    December 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Skye

    To those who care to use some brainpower, why don't you investigate the "certificate of live birth" that was placed on Obama's website vs. a real birth certificate or copy of a real birth certificate. My birth certificate shows an original copy, signed by the nurse in the hospital where I was born, printed on official birth certificate paper. What was presented on Obama's website was not a copy of anything – it was printed on a computer recently. And investigation into this document has shown forgery – 2007 border on 2008 paper, blurry and inconsistent lettering and print, erroneous color in between the letter characters (indicating the embedding and merging of separate documents), etc. Or you can choose to cop out and call anyone and everyone a conspiracy theorist who questions the legitimacy of this president-elect. That is called shutting off your brain and refusing to address any of the facts – in your mind, if Snopes, the CIA, and the mainstream media say it's legit, it must be. Sad.

    December 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. sam


    It might be a little exaggeration as you may call it, but I think stupid people like FRANK should do thir home work before they put a pen on a paper.

    December 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Hillbilly

    If this question isn't a concern, please explain to me how come it's been coming up since before the Summer. Not only that, but Obama's aunt was kicked out of the U.S. 4 years ago for being an illegal alien but has refused to leave even up to this date. To make things even worse, OUR tax dollars are paying for her to live in Public Housing in Boston.

    Yes, the country is at stake, as is our Constitution and way of life. The answer is not republican or democrat, people need to start looking outside the box. It's time we elect a 3rd party member which hasn't happened since 1860. This way we can end all the lies and start with something new & not tarnished.

    December 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Dave

    How can a case as weak as this get to the Supreme Court?

    December 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Erik from Real Pennsylvania

    Let's offer the evidence up again, to the wacko nutjobs who still think there's an issue here. Go to and read the material there. Then look at your own so-called "birth certificate" and see if it isn't a certified copy of live birth or some such agency-generated document, just like President-elect Obama's document as REPEATEDLY CERTIFIED AS AUTHENTIC BY HAWAII AUTHORITIES, you morons.

    December 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Franco Tirado


    December 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Robert, Houston, TX

    "Berg claims Hawaii officials will not let him see Obama's original birth certificate"

    Give it a rest already, Berg--you go ask for anybody's birth certificate other than your own's-–trust me...they're not just going to hand it to you. I'm sure you'd have just a hard time getting a hold of Bush's or McCain's.

    December 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. alan

    Hey cons you want some CHEESEEE with that WHINEEEEEE... You say you hold the constitution up as the letter of the law right , well then how about all the votes that were stolen in 2000 and 04 . Nuff said .. You cons are the reason why are suffering economically right now ....

    December 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Samantha

    For the stupid people who are still beating this dead horse. A sealed copy of Obama birth Certificate was produced by the Hawaii Goverment, and a copy of Obama Birth announcement was also located in the hawaii newspaper. This is so silly.

    Cattlecar, you have never seen a Birth Certificate for Obama with a Kenyan stamp, because Obama mother never lived in Kenya so how could he have been borned there. You people make up stuff because your stupid to realize the parties over and Obama has won.

    December 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. The Game

    "Case closed"
    thump, thump, thump!!!!
    "Next! case!"

    December 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |

    OMG. there's a lot of ugly people out there and GOD doesn't like them at all. Obama is an american citizen and your PE. so get over it.

    December 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. change in America

    This is disgrace .....These nutts would do anything to be on the news ....Leave Obama alone he would do a good job being president..
    Obama is a citizen of American

    December 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Ken Isom

    it is illegal to have dual citizenship.
    show us the birth certificate once and for all.

    December 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Matt

    @ Wake UP America

    Lemme are a HUGE X-Files fan?

    December 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Chill Out

    To "Wake UP America"

    Are you have to be joking. Enough with the conspiracy theories. He has a birth certificate, he IS a natural born US citizen and he is going to make an amazing president. Case closed. CTFO.

    December 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Skye

    One more thing – ever heard of the phrase "divide and conquer"? That is exactly what the puppet-masters have done. So many of you are stuck on the Republican vs. Democrat paradigm that you cannot think straight regarding this issue. This gross oversimplification of what is happening here is exactly why it is happening. As long as it is a right vs. left cat fight, we can exclude rational, logical comprehension and understanding of the issue at hand, and others like it. Corruption can flourish when a nation is divided and boy is it flourishing. I hope some of you will wake up but I fear most will not.

    December 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Debbie in DC

    Bogus suit . . . Our taxpayer dollars at work.

    This would not even gotten on Judge Judy let alone the supreme court. A waste of time money, air and thought.

    Donofrio should actually read the constitution. Obama was BORN in the US. END OF STORY!!!!!!

    December 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    First of all the only true citizens are INDIANS they were here first and all the white EUROPEAN decient men came here took over THEIR LAND and called it USA. So no one need ask anyone a damm thing about where they are fromor if they are citizens or not. Because if so all the white people need to head to the back of the line and fill out a damm green card because this great USA belongs to the INDIANS and white men stripped them of everything they had, thats why INDIANS (pure) get money each month for compensation. And Africans were forced here and hell its too much mixtures of all races her so get over it!


    December 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. globalgroove

    To all those screaming about seeing a birth certificate: What makes YOU think that YOU must see it? It is a personal document. The people who needed to see it have seen it. You morons probably don't even know where yours is...

    December 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. Matt

    @ Scott, who said

    "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."

    First, that is his right, because those documents are not public. Second, he has produced a certified copy, which is legally equivalent to the original, i.e., there's no question as to its authenticity and accuracy. Third, and perhaps most important for showing how hypocritical you neocon crybabies are, at least he's not shredding documents, hiding emails and refusing to obey Congressional subpoenae. Grow up, wake up and suck it up. He's about to shame you all with what a good job he does.

    December 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Bubba

    You mean this time-waster actually made the Court take thirty seconds to dismiss his silly claim? Look for him on the Limbaugh show soon – he's a real conservative hero.

    December 8, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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