09.12.2008 US & Canada

US Supreme Court rejects appeal over Obama's citizenship

09.12.2008 LISTEN
By The Caucus Blogs.nytime

Without any comment whatsoever, the Supreme Court today (Monday) declined to take up an appeal by a New Jersey man who questioned President-elect Barack Obama's eligibility for the presidency, based on his birth to a father from Kenya and a mother who was a United States citizen.

The case, brought by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., contended that Mr. Obama could not be considered a “natural-born citizen” — a constitutional ground for becoming president of the United States — contending that he had dual nationality at birth.

State health officials in Hawaii have declared that Mr. Obama was born there in August of 1961, and is a United States citizen, (see but that hasn't stopped a small squall of Internet-fueled rumors from trying to debunk his citizenship. The issue of his birth certificate has long been the subject of rumors, to the point that Mr. Obama's Web site posted a copy of it on its “fightthesmears” mini-site to try to stanch the innuendo during the campaign.

Last week, Top of the Ticket, the politics blog of The Los Angeles Times, noted that none other than Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was circulating Mr. Donofrio's appeal for consideration among the members of the highest court. And because the state of Hawaii would not release the original birth certificate — birth certificates aren't public record there (released only to the family) — various sites have pondered the veracity of the document published by the Obama campaign, even as the state's officials themselves have declared it valid.

The Chicago Tribune has also followed the rumor mill relentlessly. And PolitiFact, one of the premier fact-checking sites during this election year, mined the issues of the embossed seal of verification, etc. endlessly.

There is still another case out there, challenging the president-elect's right to assume the presidency based on his parentage and the years he spent overseas in Indonesia.

This is the kind of doubt-bending thing that lives independently online, but from the looks of today's decision by the highest court in the land, the accusation isn't gaining much ground in the realm of reality.

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