December 15th, 2008
11:10 AM ET
14 years ago

Supreme Court rejects appeal questioning Obama's citizenship

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a second appeal Monday challenging President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court has dismissed a second emergency appeal questioning 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 Cort Wrotnowski, a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut.

In his appeal, Wrotnowski claimed 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 Wrotnowski'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."

A similar appeal was rejected a week ago by the high court, from a retired lawyer in New Jersey.

In another lawsuit making its way through the courts, Philip Berg of Pennsylvania alleges the president-elect was actually born in Kenya. Berg claims Hawaiian 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 Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz (08A469).

soundoff (375 Responses)
  1. Hilary

    Well, hell. My mom was born in New York; my dad was born in London; I was born in California. I guess I'm not a "natural born citizen" either. LOL.

    December 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Noah

    This is a pathetic attempt to interupt and cheapen a phenomenal moment in American history.

    With all the issues facing our country, both domestically and abroad, to focus one's energy and use the time of the highest court in the United States on such asinine inquisitions is the denition of waste.

    I commend the Supreme Court for their haste in rejecting this baseless plea.

    I submit to Mr. Wrotnowski that there exist a nearly infinte number of more important issues than a concern for the legitimacy of President-Elect Obama's citizenship. Further I suggest that should Mr. Wrotnowski choose to simply remove his head from the sand, such issues would present themselves with stunning clarity.

    – Noah Domnitz, Milwaukee, WI.

    December 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Irma in North Carolina

    All these people trying to start this are nothing bunch of racits and they need to be brought down on their knees.

    December 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. JL

    Since when is Hawaii a foreign cuontry. How many times does this crap need to be debunked. If you go by the criteria the right wing-nuts are trying to set, no one outside of full-blooded native americans would be eligible to be president.

    Obama won. He's black. Get over it.

    December 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. Jim

    It is apparent that none of people commenting here are familiar with the issue. Obama did not prove his Hawaiian birth. He provided a non-legal "Certificate Of Live Birth" was not the required birth certificate. If Obama was born in Hawaii why not provide a real birth certificate?

    December 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Joe Six-Pack

    Wrotnowski was not questioning whether Obama was a citizen. His claim is that Obama did not meet the higher constitutional requirement to become president- that of being a "natural born citizen". The only place that term is used in US law is in the constitutional requiremnent for president, and to the founders it had a very specific meaning, whcih is lost or not dicussed in this article.

    Wrotnowski also proposes that Obama gave up his citizenship when he was adopted by his step father in Indonesia. This claim may actually be pretty strong.

    I suspect this issue will dog Obama's presidencey. Whether for or against Obama, the best situation will be for someone to review this issue. At this point the electors have the right to question his eligibility, then in January congress can question it.

    December 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. mike

    To Salt, so what you just said means all Osama Bin Laden needs to do is have a child in the USA and then spend $1billion and make his son president.

    Read the constitution before you make insane remarks.

    December 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Steve

    This guys argument may or may not stand up to legal scrutiny. It doesn't matter because the Supreme Court refuses to consider the matter for fear of causing a consititution problem. Phil Berg of Pennsylvania actually has a different argument. That is, regardless of Obama's previous status as a "natural born" citizen, the fact that he enrolled at one time at an Indonesian school makes him a "naturalized" citizen. Indonesian laws at that time requires people who enrolled at their schools be citizens of Indonesia. That means Obama's mom had to get Obama a dual citizenship at that time. The problem is, the United States does NOT recognize dual citizenship, ergo, from USA's perspective, Obama actually gave up his citizenship then. When he had his citizenship reinstated upon returning to Hawaii, he became a "naturalized" citizen. By law, naturalized citizens can NOT be the President of the United States. That is the argument against Obama's eligibility for POTUS.

    December 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Jeff in Illinois

    I think I'll file a lawsuit that Cort Wrotnowski is not a U.S. citizen because the third letter of his first name is an "R". Its just as logical as the one he filed.

    December 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Regardless of whether he had dual citizenship or not, he was born in the United States. Even if both of his parents were illegal immigrants from Timbuktu and China, if he was born on American soil, within our borders, then he's a Natural Born US Citizen.

    All the people need to stop grabbing at straws, and start using their heads. My compliments to the Supreme Court for not justifying this stupid, frivolous lawsuit with a hearing.

    December 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Kenneth

    Funny how they never questioned McCain, who was born on a military base outside the continental US, or even the countless other presidential candidates throughout history whose parents were immigrants. Folks, this is what racism looks like.

    December 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. OhioMOM1

    Yep, these folks are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    December 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. paul (staunch Moderate)

    It's time for jokers like this to pay heavy fines for bringing frivolous charges such as this. Doing so could quickly clear up crowded dockets of the overburdened court system.

    December 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    I demand to see Philip Berg's birth certificate! When he produces a certified copy (I was born in PA and you get a certified copy while the original stays on file) I will bring a counter lawsuit stating he has no right to file a lawsuit on the Supreme Court because he can't produce an original birth certificate and is not an American citizen. The only way to fight the lunatic fringe is with their own medicine.

    December 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. mona

    I have a question for Mr. Berg..You say PE Obama was actually born in Kenya, well how do you know that? Were you there in the actual hospital room at the precise moment of PE Obama's birth? This is just insanity. I don't care where this great man was born, I just care about how he will help us and this nation we live in.

    December 15, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Cory

    They should just leave the Barrack alone. The Constitution clearly states that if you were born in the U.S. then you are a citizen. Even of neither of his parents were not U.S. citizens it would not matter. He was born in Hawaii; it is a U.S. state.

    December 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. obama-mama

    This nut job apparently has too much time on his hands. Why don't he find something contructive to do.

    December 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. a southern bell.




    December 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Mickie

    If we allow illegal aliens from Mexico to have babies here on our tax dollars and then consider the babies citizens, then why are they even questioning Obama's citizenship?

    December 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. call me crazy

    WOW!!! It's over.Obama won now lets get things running again in this country!!!Do you idiots understand that ????

    December 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. big daddy

    This guy should get a day job !!! What a clown..............

    December 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Desperate people resorting to desperate measures.

    Hey people.......he produced a birth certificate, he won the election, he's gonna be the POTUS, GET OVER IT!!

    OH.....and have a nice day 😀 .......

    December 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Dennis

    Sounds like the Supreme Court gave this case the amount of attention it deserved: 0.

    December 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. J. Madison

    Why had Obama hired two law firms (not lawyers, but firms) to keep his birth certificate out of the public eye. Wouldn't it be better if he just showed it and cleared up the courts time. What's he hiding? Also, Hawaii issued him a "certificate of live birth" which is different from the regular birth certificate. It was given to those born outside the country. No problem if your mom or dad is a U.S. citizen. But Obama's mom gave up her citizenship. And his day was Kenyan. Look on YouTube and you'll even see his Kenyan grandma bragging about watching him be born in Kenya. Now that I've made most of you mad, I still think Obama should be president. The courts should, however, clear this up so no member of a foreign state, like Russia, could come and run for president. The way elections have become about "image" vs. issues, the populace needs protected from itself.

    December 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Steve, Jacksonville, Fl

    Barack Obama won. He is our President. Get over it. I don't care if he was born on Mars.

    December 15, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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