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. KYWildcat

    To Frank, it's sad that idiot's like you are allowed to blog!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. John

    The post by "Jean" is wrong. I suggest that you go look at what the Hawaii laws were back in 1961 before making a false comment, which you state as a fact. At that time, anyone could get a Certification of Live Birth in Hawaii regardless of where they were born. Yes, that's very strange, but that's what the law was. Just keep in mind that a Certification of Live Birth (that's what Obama has shown) is absolutely not the same thing as the full-length vault birth certificate, which is what a LOT of people want to be shown.

    December 8, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. IndyVoter

    Total waste of our Justices' time and energy, nevermind tax-payer money!

    December 8, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. TN for Obama

    John McCain was born in 1936 at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, Panama. However, at that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control. So I guess they both could be questioned...but not really. Come on people! They were/are US Senators and have lived in the US many years. Stop being stupid!

    December 8, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Georgee

    One more comment here for those who thinks that Obama's mother or anyone else thought about going to the third world to deliver baby.

    My girl friend lived with a guy in Guatemala around 1980's and had a baby there. The baby got Meningitis from the improperly cleaned emberical chord. Even if Obma's grandparens were millionaries(they were not), I don't think they would have sent here daughter there. What for? Deliver a baby. Soooo insane.

    December 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. PDX Gal

    Take off the tin foil hats!

    If Obama was not a citizen, then Moose-for-brains would have beat that dog to death a long time ago.

    December 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. The smart Guy

    Amazing.... The bigots will stop at nothing. This is one of the reasons why other Nations have not respected America. B/c to them America was masquerading around as a place of liberty and freedom but this liberty and freedom could only be truly realized if you looked like the majority in England. Now, they see they quite possibly, America has come far enough to recognize it's own promises, now we have the cancerous bigots in American Society trying to again show the world that America is not what it says it should be.

    December 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Willie Lump Lump

    Well it's nice to see that the Supreme Court once again has been involved with legitimizing the president.

    December 8, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Charles I Am

    What is so obvious is the only question around citizenship would be McCains. We know for a fact that he was not born in the U.S. You can call him Kenyan if you want to but come 1/20/08 just call him POTUS!!!!! If you don't know then you had better ask somebody!!!

    December 8, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |

    Actions & commets on behalf of ruoge republicans is exactly the reason McCain lost. As an African American, I feel like they are against everythiing about us or for us. WE only want the same shake out of life and Barack won fair & square but now this. Let's start calling it it what it is – Racism. Provide proof that his brith records shows Kenya, if you can't simple,,,,,,,,,,,, racism.

    December 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Alex

    "Veteran in Kansas"

    Obama was born 4 years after Hawaii became a state..

    "The state was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959, making it the 50th state."

    December 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Carl from MI

    Legal documentation in the form of Obama's BIRTH CERTIFICATE was already examined and deemed official by several sources.

    At least Obama HAS documentation...unlike Dubya's National Guard documention that conveniently disappeared in an untimely manner.

    I'm with the rest of the people on this ticker... "Obama would have never even gotten in sniffing distance of the presidency if he was not a citizen. Please find something else worthy of a complaint to talk about."

    Like all the damage Dubya is trying to do to our nation before leaving office....

    December 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. ltva

    Instead of the man wasting time and resources questioning Obama's citizenship; why doesn't he make an appeal to the supreme court to changes the status of the 'citizen babies' born to illegal aliens in this country. Just imagine in another 15-20 years most of these children will be adults who will be able to vote, run for public office, and have every right that U.S citizens have. Beleive me that is a bigger threat than Obama's father being Kenyan and Obama having dual citizenship.

    December 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Beth from Virginia

    Let's stop the nitpicking. He IS a US Citizen. He IS a native-born American. "Native-born American" is the key phrase here as it applies to elegibility for the office of POTUS. And oh what a can of worms it would open up if the SCOTUS allowed debate on this issue. How many other people would start flooding the courts with nonsense about "native-born" status.

    December 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. AndrewS

    Regardless of where President elect Obama was born his mother was a natural born US citizen so....

    " Title 8 of the U.S. Code . Section 1401 defines the following as people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:"

    Anyone born inside the United States

    Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)

    December 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. frank

    show me the birth certificate, show it to me!
    signed by an MD in Hawaii....
    you won't see it!

    of course McCain has a birth certificate...not a certificate of birth!

    you are so desperate to have this mediocre, clown take office...that you will say anything

    but what do you care Hillary is in charge!

    December 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Ms. Jenny

    Are people really that stupid that they think Obama isn't a citizen? What morons...

    December 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Tony

    Slow news day?

    December 8, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. kasera


    December 8, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Absolutely Surprised

    Wow....I cannot believe how so many of you don't give a rats #$% about the truth in this issue. You're so enamored with the idea of Obama being President that his constitutional legitimacy to be such doesn't even register on your little minds.

    The question is quite simple – When will Obama provide legitimate proof that he was born in the US. To date, he has NOT. That's not even in dispute by those who are even half way knowledgeable about the facts in this case. SCOTUS didn't have the testicular fortitude to confront the issue so they wimped out.

    If Obama truly was born in HI as he claims, why on earth can't or won't he simply produce proof of such? It seems like such an easy thing to do and it would put to rest all of these claims that he wasn't born here. Instead of providing the proof that ought to be easily obtainable, he has gone in the opposite direction by sealing all of this records at the University of Chicago and Harvard. Huh? Seems a bit odd for the guy promoting "transparency".

    You people ought to care about whether Obama is constitutionally qualified to be the President. If he is, good for him. If he isn't, doesn't that bother you in the slightest degree that the POTUS can so easily disregard the Constitution?

    December 8, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. hunter

    A DEMOCRAT started all of this - NOT a Republican. The first lawsuit filed about Obama's "naturan born citizenship" was by Mr. Berg - a lifelong Democrat for over 30 years and a paid member of the NAACP. So, it's neither Republicans nor racists who started this, but a DEMOCRAT! If only more people would learn the facts before talking and/or typing........

    December 8, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. KG, Twin Cities

    Why aren't these people working on something more important like proving 9/11 was an inside job?

    December 8, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Abyssinian Lion

    If pro-lifers believe that a baby is created at conception, then shouldnt the question be where Obama was concieved and not where he was born? LOL

    December 8, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. E.E

    Yes, God bless the US of A, our democracy allows us to question everything and everyone in addition to all situations, and this happens to be one of them that is open to discussion.

    Long live our constitution.

    December 8, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Joan , Ontario

    What a terrible waste of time when there are so many pressing problems in your country. Obviously President Elect Obama was vetted extensively during his bids for the Senate, during the primaries and the election. I have heard several prominent, clever lawyers state on television that this is ridiculous because he was born in an American state, Hawaii, to an American citizen his mother. Whoever these people are who keep bringing this up must have ulterior motives and really need to set better priorities considering what is going on economically right now. I wonder if they are able to get or retain their jobs and if their financial status improves at all because of President Obama's policies, will they reject these benefits. I doubt it. If this man who is constantly bringing this ridiculous issue up is a lawyer, then I would question his reliability, credibility and motives before ever hiring him. He needs to move on and use his skills positively to help his country..

    December 8, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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