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. Soccer Nana

    I am glad this mess is settled; now, come on America, let's get on with working TOGETHER to get our Country back on her feet .

    God bless the United States of America!

    December 8, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. Greg

    What's with all the wimps in government?? While this might just be a conspiracy, what's the harm in finding out once and for all whether Obama is qualified to be our next president?

    Even someone who voted for Obama would want to know the Constitution was being upheld, wouldn't they? I would hope so...otherwise, we have really lost our way...

    December 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Steve

    The birth Cedrtificates should be examined by the Supreme court
    to determine if they are legal and that he was born in hawaii and not Kenya.
    There maybe a problem with Obama being born in Hawaii because the Hawaii monarchy was overthrown by United States troops in late 1800 in violation of international law. Sure some Presidents including Clinton have apologized for the actions of the American government but what good is an apology. When statehood for Hawaii was approved in 1952 the natives Hawaiians were not allowed to vote.

    December 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. FrankinPhilly

    Maybe someone should sue Donofrio for being an idiot.

    December 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. JLH

    John McCain was born in PANAMA! Why didn't this turd blossom question his citizenship?! Boy, I'll tell ya....racism rots the brain!

    December 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. David in Dallas

    Donofrio probably also thought Palin would be a good POTUS in waiting.

    Go back into retirement, old man. It was a good effort (I'm being generous) but Obama is your next president. We dealt with Bush, now you can deal with Obama.

    December 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Tom in Delaware

    While I have no problem believing that Obama was born a citizen of this country, I would like to know that he was not made a citizen of Indonesia as a child after moving there with his mother's second husband.

    If one renounces their citizenship as a US citizen then they forego the right to hold high public office, and although Barack Obama did not in any way renounce his citizenship when he was a child, if his father claimed him as a citizen of Indonesia, then he would have to had re-apply for citizenship to our country.

    This is a relatively simple process and would in no way preclude Obama from the presidency, but I'd just like to know the truth of the matter.

    For being one of the most gifted speakers in history, it sure is hard to pin him down on anything he has to say, but I'd like to hear what he has to say on this topic.

    He's got plenty of time before January 20th...shouldn't be a problem.

    December 8, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Joe

    All these people saying that Obama is not a natural-born citizen just because he hasn't shown his legal birth certificate remind me of the folks who still say that OJ Simpson is guilty of murder after he was clearly found INNOCENT in a court of law. GET OVER IT, RACISTS!!

    December 8, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |

    i can't believe some people would go this FAR!! DUMB an waist of time!!! Yall are just holding us back, you need to be disputing other things in the world like, BAILOUTS, PEOPLES RIGHT TO VOTE, SEXISM IN AMERICA, ETC.


    : )

    December 8, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Ricky

    This is just as stupid as people still thinking Obama is a terrorist muslim or has terrorist ties. Yes, we now have a black President with an Arabic name...get over it.

    December 8, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Lue Blacknell

    Do these guys have anything better to do? Why is'nt there a law that will charge them for making these frivilous lawsuits-and keep them from distracting from what the courts are actually there for-legal business!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. karen from Canada

    These people do not know when to stop. The right cannot acknowledge the fact that America has a black President. Get over it.

    December 8, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Cattlecar, your medication needs adjusting.

    December 8, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Art in California

    If there was some document (e.g. birth certificate) in Kenya it would have surfaced some time ago. If they don't record births in Kenya then there will be no evidence. If the Hawaiian birthday certificate was stamped "Kenya" there would have been a written record in Kenya by the same agency that stamped Kenya on the document that is sealed in Hawaii. Otherwise who would have put the Kenya stamp on the original birth certificate?

    I would imagine this man was vetted quite well early on in his campaign and a legitimate claim would have been made by now.

    Let's all focus on helping the new president work with our representatives in Congress and see what we can do to help America! Good heavens folks, we need to put this country's future in our own hands and help the leaders fix our problems.

    December 8, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. sha

    Newsflash – even if he had been born in Kenya (which he wasn't) he would still be a US citizen – his mother is American and given her young age when he was born I think its safe to say she had spent most of the previous 10 years before he was born in the US. This is part of the requirements for children born to American's out of country. McCain was born in Panama and is a US citizen as well. For you people still holding onto these bizarre and debunked ideas try Google, all this information is out there for you to find. And another newsflash – BLOGS don't count as a credible news source!

    December 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Almost the end of THE error!

    OMG! Come on there are more important things going on than to waste your time on this. My son had dual citizenship also. I was active duty military, so was my husband. Our son was born in England. My son now proudly serves for our country. Are you telling me that if he ever decided to run for President, your going to try and stop him? What a crock! And Barack was actually born in Hawaii...which by the a state!

    December 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Anne

    It really would not matter if he was born here or elsewhere. The fact is his mother is a US citizen therefore he is a US citizen regardless of whether he was born in hawaii, kenya or mars. And for the idiots who dont quite fathom how that works, McCain was born in Panama therefore by their own theory he is also not a natural born citizen.

    December 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. adon08

    I guess he is missing the point of DUAL citizenship. This is pretty sad that he would go to such lengths to not have President-Elect Obama serve this country as president. I think it says more about his character– or lackk thereof.

    December 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. chris @ stl

    What a distraction and what a waste of time ....
    All those who still don't believe that PE Obama is won the race fair and square, please get over it, and start diverting your energy in to doing something positive .... It's over .... get back to your life!

    December 8, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Frank in the ATL

    Obama has been scrutinized more than any other human being running for president. Please give it up!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. 30-m-PA-Democrat-voted McCain

    I like how the article says Obama was born in Hawaii as if this is a fact. This alone is in doubt and is being argued. There is evidence that suggests Obama was born in Kenya. Additionally, even if Obama was born in the US he lost his citizenship when he lived in Indonesia and went by the name Barry. I must admit I believe this will be a dead end as no one will want to question the messiah.

    December 8, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Debra Austin, Texas

    Cattlecar needs to take his conspiracy theories and get himself either a job that keeps him busy or another hobby. There are NO facts in REALITY that show Kenya stamped on the birth certificate document and Cattlecar's claim is just worth the email comment cyberspace it is written on. Thankfully, Obama's signature will have the force of law and Cattlecar is just an anonymous, meaningless, and sore loser kook who has way too much time on his hands.

    December 8, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |

    Do you know how hard you are investigated to be in the secret service, do you honestly believe a potential president of the U.S. does not come under the same scrutiny as your local post man. Think about it have some common sense. If you don't think they asked to see his birth certificate, try to apply for a driver license with out one and see how long that line is.

    December 8, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Get it together Repubs


    Stick to driving cattle you idiot.

    December 8, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. anonymous

    The last time I checked, Hawaii was part of the 50 US states...

    December 8, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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