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)


    December 8, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Marie

    Glad the supreme court made the right decision. Donofrio and Berg should apologize to the courts for filing such garbage. Memo to those two....he won, get over it!!

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

    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.

    Please go post your nonsense on FOX NOISE. Hannity and O'Lielly are lonely without other looney tunes, low information readers like yourself. Grow up and just STFU while you're at it.

    December 8, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Ed

    For all the whinos,,,John McCain doesn't have too much of a better argument than Obama. He was born in Panama!

    December 8, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Brenda

    Correction on my comment. I left out the word "didn't" in the sentence regarding weight, height, and color of eyes. His short form DIDN'T include his weight, height, and color of eyes. McCain provided his long for vault copy when requested to do so. Why doesn't Barack?

    December 8, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. frank

    it is not over

    this was about citizenship...
    now comes the lawsuit about BIRTH CERTIFICATE!
    and he can't produce one! JA, JA, JA.....
    no matter what happens he is a full of s...fake

    December 8, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Mary Jane

    PLEASE!!! My kids are losing their jobs and my grandkids can't find jobs!!
    Get over this nonsense and try to do the right thing for America not just those right wing, racist nuts!!!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Veteran in Kansas

    Grow up, Obama was born in Hawaii at State in the United States to an American mother. Since I am not sure of Obama's exact birth date let us say it was prior to Hawaii becoming a state, well he would still be a native born citizen, because Hawaii was a terroritory of the United States and his mother was still a US citizen. McCain was born in Panama, and has a certificate of birth abroad, rather than a per say birth certificate saying he was born in a State, and he is still a US citizen. The Neo-conservative Supreme Court made the right decision.

    December 8, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Ronald

    Isn't Hawaii a state, unlike Alaska where its current Governor wanted to secceed & McCaib was born in the Pamama Cannel Zone - I think we made the best choice.

    We want this crisis the Bush Admin created to finally end.

    December 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    Cattlecar: It does not matter if P.E. Obama's birth certificate were stamped Mars. His mother was a United States citizen and her off spring, no matter where born, are U.S. citizens as well.

    December 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Change - Yeah Left

    I have to wonder what the Libs have on the SCOTUS. If things had been reversed and there were questions about a Republican president-elect, the media would be screaming cover-up from the highest trees in the land.

    But, since it's the Messiah – it's all well and good.

    I want to see a BIRTH CERTIFICATE! Not a Certificate of Live Birth – there IS a difference.

    December 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. Barb from Houston

    Cattlecar is Phil Berg in troll disguise, who believes Obama's COLB verified and authenticated by the Hawaii Dept of Health and the US State Department as well as the birth announcement published in the Honolulu Advertiser in August '61 are all fake! Geez, racism clouds common sense.

    December 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Jeff

    This just shows the extent to which the right wing paranoid lunatic fringe will go. Hey pal, why don't we just impeach Bush right now and let Obama's administration begin. Why? Bush has been/ is so out of touch he must be an illegal alien...FROM ANOTHER PLANET !

    December 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. chris s.

    You foolish republicans. Havent you guys learned yet. Theres nothing you can throw at the democrats this year, especially President-elect Obama.

    December 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Jessica in IL


    And of course you know this because you have personally seen said document. Whatever! Stop believing right-ist lies and then spouting them off as facts, please.

    December 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Beverly


    December 8, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. American Citizen

    SIMPLE QUESTION: If Obama was born in Hawaii then why does he or anyone who supports him have a problem with his full-length vault birth certificate being shown?

    ANSWER: ???

    December 8, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. S.M

    At least the court realized that this would be a waste of time. If they had allowed the case to go foward, than McCain's citizenship could come into question as well. Some people just can't move past their hatred of another individual.

    Also, there are those who say that they wouldn't want this job of cleaning up after Bush's mess, but God gives each and everyone of us talents and gifts in different areas to do the right thing. We need to pray for Obama that God will give him the faith and strength to do what is right.

    December 8, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Kate

    Almost the end of THE error! – I do agree that this topic seems to be of little importance. However, we have both decided to read this article, making it a least interesting. And I also agree that Hawaii is a state, but Obamas mother was not in the U.S. for long enough for her child to be a citizen, she was 16, she needed to be 18 at the time of his birth. Making Obama NOT a U.S. citizen. But does this really matter?

    December 8, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Barney

    No one is going to overturn this election because the world has already welcomed Obama with opened arms.

    The hype is up and everyone's positive about him.

    Later if it should come out that he was not born in Hawaii but Kenya it's going to change everything and the US constitution will fall like a house of cards.

    Everyone will be saying well it worked for Obama any foreigner can be president or YOU made an exception for him! Why not Arnold Schwarzenegger?

    Someone from the federal government should check this out then check again. I want Obama as our next president but not at the expense of our constitution. Oh wait, we already have a current president at the expense of our constitution.


    December 8, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Mike, Portland

    Cattlecar is actually Sarah Palin writing in – can't you tell by the flawed logic?

    December 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Georgee

    C'mon. Obama was born during the 1960's. Why an US white woman would go to Kenya to deliver a baby? Can you imagine the third world hygene at that time? If anything goes wrong, she would die there. Also Barack Sr was a poor student on scholarship from a poor country (Kenya). Where did he get the money to fly his wife and himself? Mind you she cannot speak Kenyan language. She would need him to go with him. Remember it's 1960's. The air trip was not that common and very expensive. There was really no need to go to Kenya to deliver a baby. Kenyan birth certificate is given by blood (just like British and Japanese) of parents not by land of birth. Obama could have had a dual citizenship when he was born. That's not a big deal. It will expire at age 18 unless he refuses US citizenship.

    December 8, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. The Pecan State Pundit

    Even the Republican political hacks who form the current majority of the Supreme Court dare not overturn another presidential election, tempted though they might be.

    December 8, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Norom

    Can anyone say "frivolous lawsuit"?

    December 8, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Erik from Real Pennsylvania

    Are tin foil hats back in fashion? How can these conspiracy theorist wackos be satisfied, without a heavenly choir of angels with Ronald Reagan's ghost in the lead proclaiming "Obama was born in the United States, sayeth the Lord."
    Failing that, some reputable material on this all-too-silly subject can be found at

    December 8, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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