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. Molly

    Great! Will the nut jobs please go away now that there ridiculious claims have been shot down.

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. K from NC

    I understand the suit says that Obama is not eligible to be president. But the thing that troubles me are people saying that "His signature on a bill will be worth no more than mine" and they will challenge every bill he signs. There comes a time when we have to unite behind the President. You may not agree with him, and that's what democracy is all about. But this is ridiculous.

    I disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling that allowed President Bush to take office, but I nonetheless recognized him as President. I disagreed with him many times, but I never considered going to court, clogging the system up with something that was already resolved.

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. Chris

    McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone... so who cares.

    The whole "natural born" thing needs to go all together, we're not a nation of 100,000 anymore. There's TONS of very good foreign born people that have lived in the USA all their lives and fought in the military, paid taxes that could really help lead this country. Why are we descriminating against someone for something they have 0 control over????

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. mike

    I think the State law board should look into taking action against this lawyer for brinigng such a frivulous law suit. Please do not waste the courts time.

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. BreAnna - Military Brat

    I'm glad the Supreme Court dismissed that. Now maybe all of the conspiracy theorists and ignorant people who believe every fowarded email and Youtube and those rediculous websites will all be at ease now. Yeah, right. I can't wait to see what else these people come up with to try to halt the POTUS elect's agenda. Not.

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. thinker_in_NC

    "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."

    Seriously?!? When was the last time you looked at YOUR birth certificate? Unless you are born DEAD, everyone's birth certificate (in the US) is a LIVE birth. The Hawaii birth certificate is a legitimate birth certificate. And FYI, babies with parents from two different countries can often claim dual citizenship. None of that negates Obama as a US Citizen. Perhaps you should expand your knowlegebase before making such patently false claims.

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. 37-year-old First Time Voter

    Wow, I never seen anyone question any of the other "natural born" POTUS....I guess you have to look "natural born" to be president.....

    December 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Paul Thompson

    Why not release his college and birth records?

    Why fight this tooth and nail with millions of dollars?

    What is there to hide?

    December 8, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. A natural born citizen

    It is one thing to be book-smart, it is another thing to be smart & dumb.
    All these pple questioning Obama's citizenship are either dumb/stupid or they are just plain being mischievous. How could one even think the FEC would have cleared Obama to stand for the election if he is not a "natural born citizen". Oh I forgot, Hawaii is the last state to be accepted into the union and it is too close to Japan and they do not speal English, so he must be have been born when Hawaii belonged to Japan. The most annoying thing about this is that all these cries are coming from the so called educated Lawyers and what have you. It is time to move on and drink from the unity cup!!!.

    December 8, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Sarah

    What morons.

    Even if Obama WAS born in Kenya, so what? He was born to a United States citizen mother, which means he gots derivative citizenship at birth! He could've been born in Kenya and STILL would be a "natural born citizen." Sheesh. Some people just don't know anything.

    December 8, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Tolu

    What a joke. The justices should not have convened for this; they should have rejected the suit via email or twitter or some equally dismissive means...

    December 8, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. Abyssinian Lion

    Time to move on and continue the search for UFOs,Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster.

    December 8, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Nancy

    This is dumb, idiots need to get a grip. The man is a U.S. citizen – that's that! Oh and by the way – HE IS THE 44TH PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!! Do you honestly think the Repubs would let him get this far and he isn't a U.S. citizen. Why do you think it is so hard for Mexican mothers to just get sent back to their homeland when their children were born here – their kids are U.S. citizens and no one wants to separate them from their kids.

    Let him be, he ain't goin no where!

    December 8, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Brenda

    I am a registered democrat and voted for Hillary in the primary, but I could not vote for Obama because there were too many questions about his character. Think for a minute people, if Barack Obama didn't have anything to hide, why wouldn't he provide his long form vault copy of his birth certification? The certificate that he posted on was short form. Look at it people and compare it to yours. His short form did not list the doctors name that delivered him. It show his weight, height, and color of eyes. Obama has denied access to his college records at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard. Obama wants to be President of the United States of America, yet he does not think that we, the people, have the need or right to know about his background and status of natural born citizenship. I pray that my fellow Americans will demand anwers to these questions so that we can avoid a Constitution Crisis.

    December 8, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. john

    The Radical Right cannot accept that the people have spoken–they can never win elections when the truth is heard–They are only good at shouting screaming and intimidating public officails to overule elcections and then getting their stooge Clarence Thomas to bring this case to the Supreme Court which this time did not invalidate the election.

    December 8, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Elle

    Well, I think most of us know this won't be the end of it. There will always be ignorant idiots out there who will never accept Obama's presidency.

    December 8, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |

    mehn, the audacity of whiners!

    B HUSSEIN O IS OUR NEW PRESIDENT – now get used to it!!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Once you vote Black

    I thought anyone born on US Soil domestic or abroad (ie panama canal before Carter or a US Base) was a citizen regardless of their parents citizenship. Is that not the case? Jews have dual citizen ship, does that mean a Jew born in the US cannot be president?

    December 8, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Jean

    Hey cattlecar, how do you know that the birth certificate in Hawaii is stamped 'Kenya"? Have you seen it? Have you asked yourself WHY would a birth certificate on file in Hawaii or any other state for that matter be recorded as a birth from Kenya? The answer is: a birth certificate on file in ANY state is a birth that occurred in THAT state.

    December 8, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |


    Can we move on please?

    December 8, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Sean

    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.

    December 8, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Were You There

    None of us really know for sure, because we weren't there. If it were to turn out Obama lied about his citizenship (which seems unlikely), it would mean he defrauded us all and absolutely should not be eligible for the presidency. That is our law and always has been. Personally I think that would be a catastrophe for the nation, and this does seem like the typical right wing shenanigans, but I for one want the truth laid out nice and plain for all to see.

    December 8, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. xcusme

    On the count of Get over it already he is the next President.

    Thank you now go get a life

    December 8, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. frank

    maybe from somewhere in Africa...but American?

    what is his heritage in slavery or civil rights suffering of the real African-Americans.....what ancestors does he have? None

    he is just an arrogant politician that fooled you.....well done for him!

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

    December 8, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Voice of Reason

    Trivial fact: While Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 (a US state at the time), John McCain was born in Panama (not a US state). Does that make him unfit to serve as president? No – He is legally a citizen. So is Barack Obama. Those conspiracy theorists who say he has doctorerd birth certificate should go back to watching for black helicopters and shadow people.

    Coincidentally, I know another president who was not a natural born citizen... His name was George Washington, and he was born a subject of the British crown.

    Lets get past this nonsense and move forward. Barack Obama is the president of the US, and no amount of sour grapes will change that.

    December 8, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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