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. Anonymous

    yeah, these are the same folk that voted for Palin: Actually I didn't vote for McCain/Palin but at least I knew from day one they are both Natural Born Citizens of the US and aren't hiding anything. However, Obama is ONLY President Elect until he is sworn in as president. So before you shoot off your mouth thinking you're a big shot, you need to learn how the presidency works. From your comments, you sure don't seem to know that yet, so please do some studying up on the issue, thanks.

    Also if he didn't haven't have anything to hide he'd just produce the document without hiring 3 firms to protect his secrets. I think it's time you grew up & learned what it takes to be a President in the USA.


    December 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. thanks, but no thanks

    Please, can we all get along? Why does it matter? We have finally a sane person in white house after 8 years of insanity....

    December 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. pakuna

    all you obama saints you calling his Grandmother a liar. She said he was born in Kenya and she was there when he was born. obama is the one stirring up trouble by not being truthful and all you that voted for him voted for him because he was ( black ). You got what you voted for a black man being a puppet to white men. Some change.

    December 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Will from NYC

    "wake up america" ... the line for tin foil hats is over at the fox news board.

    December 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Chaco

    Let's get the facts straight. First, ALL original birth certificates are the property of the Vital Records Department in the state in which one was born. When you apply to get your birth certificate, you will receive a certified copy, not the original. My mother has a 'photocopy' of my original, it is small, typed on a typewriter and smudged. When I ordered a copy, I received a full page, in modern font and printed on fancy paper – it looks nothing like my mother's copy. If you don't accept the facts, I challenge you to go try to get your own ORIGINAL birth certificate and see how far you get. has done a lot of work on this and the Republican Governor of Hawaii stated she view the original at the Dept. of Health and pronounced it in order. Please end this stupidity!

    December 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. sam


    now that everybody have say their point of view and uderstand that there are some haters in this pricless given the world ,we should let it go and put things behaind us, support and pray for President Barrack Obama USA abd peace in the WORLD.


    December 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. coldwar vet ~ cal

    Here is my comment to the radical right extremists, who question Obama's US citizenship and agree with these ludicrious court challenges. Get over it, it's hopeless, the election is over, you lost.

    "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." —Albert Einstein

    December 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. Alea

    Birth Certificate vs. Certificate of Birth? Is that the question? "Original" birth certificates (or certificates of birth) are NEVER issued to parent. They are kept on file in the state in which the child is born. There would never be a foreign birth certificate registered in a state. If there is a birth certificate registered in Hawaii it is because the child was born in Hawaii. My granddaughter was born in a foreign country, thus she has a document "registering the foreign birth of a U.S. citizen" because her father is a U.S. citizen. Her birth certificate is registered in that foreign country, not in any state. The document registering her birth is in the State Dept.

    This argument is pure stupidity. The fact that it has become an issue that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court is proof of the "dumbing-down" of the U.S. population. Our education system has failed us all.

    December 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. T

    The first of this year, the Medford Mail Tribune (oregon) ran a story, from a Lady in Ashland Oregon, who stated here father made it possible to bring obama and his family from kenya, in the 70's to the US. Dont take my word for it though, do your home work, look it up,
    OH and l voted for Obama.

    December 8, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Mother & a Patriot

    Just a note, just like there are many racist Republicans, there are also many racist Democrates, so the fact that the man who took it to court was a Democrate, doesn't say anythng other than he is a racist and can't get over the fact that Obama, a black man, won the Presidency of the US. I know plenty of Democrats that voted for Hillary, but refused to vote for Obama, because they just couldn't bring themselve to vote for a black man. BUT GUESS WHAT – HE WON ANYWAY!! and now he will be sworn in as our 44th President on January 20th. THANK YOU GOD!!!

    December 8, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Noel

    I can't believe this happened. Why would the supreme court actually waste time with this comment, if the constituiton implies that he's a natural born citizen. Makes no sense.

    December 8, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    I wanted to be born in Ireland ... but Mom was in Boston ... Obama was born in Hawaii to an American citizen ... for those silly people living in the past – Hawaii is one of the 50 states!

    If people invested this wasted time and energy in being useful and making a positive contribution – the nation would be a much better place!

    December 8, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Bob from NC

    By any repiglican means necessary.

    December 8, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. G from DC

    Franco Tirado:

    Actually, there WAS a lawsuit filed against McCain for similar reasons, but it wasn't pushed as far as this one against Obama because McCain didn't win the election.

    Like katiec, I, too, am glad to see that this time (unlike in 2000), the Supreme Court did make the right decision to throw this appeal out of court.

    If jokahs are salty that Obama won the election and they don't want him to be their Commander-in-Chief, then they should prepare themselves to live overseas....!! Grin and bear it....just like a majority of the country did when Dubya was selected as Commander-in-Thief!!



    December 8, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Aaron from Ohio

    Just look at all the exclamation points and read all of the demands by the right. I see carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure and ulcers in my crystal ball. OK, I read your fortunes and predicted your futures. Give me $50. You'll just blow it on carzy lawsuits anyway.

    December 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. REG in AZ

    Instead of questioning Obama's citizenship, after questioning these critics' intelligence and objectivity, what should really be questioned is the criminality of the Bush-Cheney-Rove performances that have cost this country so drastically. Barack Obama's election has indicated to the world that America has gotten back on track and given hope back to the American people but it wouldn't hurt to give warning to future administrations that they will be held accountable.

    December 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Mother & a Patriot

    Obama won, there is nothing you can do about it. Calm down, drink some warm milk and go to sleep. How about questioning 911 – all evidence points to an inside job. Or how about questioning why Bush & Cheny lied about WMD so they could go into Iraq and steal the oil? They killed tens of thousands of innocent people, was responsible for over 4,000 American lives (in addition to the $3,000+ that died in 911), and stole oil, money, and artifacts from Iraq. Why is this not seen as a problem? Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should be brought up on murder charges!!! Why aren't we discussing the vast amount of innocent lives that were killed, instead of going after the one man who said NO, we shouldn't be there!?!

    December 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Skye

    I don't appreciate being censored – I have been waiting quite a while for my previous three comments to be shown as many others have been approved during the past half hour. Perhaps you will post this along with my other three to make me look dumb or like a "conspiracy nut" (since so many of your other commenters love to throw like words around at those who actually think) but I don't care as long as the previous three get posted.

    December 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Noah

    I can’t believe people are actually this stupid. I guess some of you won’t happy until the Supreme Court overturns the election and smacks over 66 million voters in the face.

    I never thought I’d say this but the message boards on Fox News’ website are far more intelligent. At least there’s some real basis in their arguments whether I agree with them or not.

    December 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Informant

    Bill from AR – Not sure what source your sister was uning but you do not run the risk of losing American citizenship with prolonged absences. Once a ctizen always a citizen (unless you jump though a hoops to give it up). Also, any child born to an American citizen parent is also an American citizen, regardless of where the birt occurs. No need to fly back.

    An I'm not sure what story you have in mid about Obama's mother. She was 18 when he was born and did not live in Kenya. There is not inciation that she ever even visited there.

    December 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    Sean December 8th, 2008 12:32 pm ET

    If you are going to claim that Obama is not a natural born citizen because you claim (without evidence) that he was born in a foreign country, then you also have to say that McCain is not a natural born citizen, since it is fact that he was born in Panama!

    This is so typical of this crowd.
    because there is proof that he wasn't born in the US, his parents even wrote it on school papers. The BC is sealed because he has something to hide, plain and simple.

    December 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Mike from SC

    Mr. Donofrio should be dis-barred! The consitution should have been something you read BEFORE law school and you still don't get it. Even if Obama was born in Kenya (which he wasn't) the fact that his mother was an American citizen is all he needs to be a U.S. citizen. It is this type of ignorance and fear of change that has the reputation of the U.S. tainted. This is an opportunity for this country to show that it is everything that the Constitution said it is...oops, my fault, I forgot you didn't study that in school.

    December 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. SC

    Obama's father and mother were shortly married and soon after he left for Kenya and left behind Obama and his mother in the States. By marriage, wouldn't that make Obama's father a U. S. citizen and thus Obama was born from both U. S. citizen parents. Wouldn't you think of the case from that perspective, YOU, A DUMB RACIST LAWYER?

    December 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. homer

    There are some PATHETIC people in this world.

    December 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Chelsea

    Sue: You're a fool-the birth Certificate is ONLINE...for your viewing pleasure..look it up
    Cattlecar: Get your facts's all over the media that the records have been examined thoroughly..and found to be legit- he is FROM the USA..born and bred..
    Frank: what are you even talking about???
    Uhmm...Other Frank: Birth Certificate=certificate of birth-they are all part of the vital records down in HI... ALL legitimate...
    And to all the other doofy comments: GET OVER IT.. He IS a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN. and... here in about 42 days...YOUR brand NEW president!! *waves her little American flag...*
    Go find something else to do...continue your quest to disprove the moon landing or the holocaust or whatever you like to do..or see if you can find out if he was actually born in a different that would totally rock the political world. For now, you have nothing. Just STOP it.

    December 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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