- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear one of the appeals challenging whether President-elect Barack Obama’s citizenship disqualifies him from becoming president.

The court’s order said only that, “The application for stay addressed to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and referred to the court is denied.”

Leo C. Donofrio, a New Jersey attorney who filed the case, argued Mr. Obama had British citizenship when he was born, thus disqualifying him from being president under the Constitution’s requirement of being a “natural born citizen.”

“My case is done,” Mr. Donofrio said. “I’m perfectly comfortable with their decision.”

Preventing Mr. Obama from becoming president was less of a consideration for him than ensuring constitutional law is followed, he said.

“I’m not worried about Barack Obama, I’m worried about the precedent of law,” Mr. Donofrio said. “This sets a precedent for someone who doesn’t have a tie to this country” to become president.

“Anyone could be born here and be president of this country, regardless of the nationality of their parents, if Barack Obama is allowed to be president.”

Birth records show Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father who was then a British citizen. His father’s citizenship made Mr. Obama both American and British, Mr. Donofrio argued.

A lower court had dismissed Mr. Donofrio’s lawsuit that sought a stay or court order to prevent Mr. Obama and Republican John McCain from being listed on the ballot in New Jersey during the Nov. 4 election. Mr. McCain was born in Panama.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting Democratic delegate to Congress, speculated that the Supreme Court was trying to eliminate concerns about Mr. Obama’s eligibility before the president-elect is sworn into office on Jan. 20.

“We can only guess why this case is even being considered,” said Ms. Norton, who also is a Georgetown University Law Center professor.

“But the reason is more likely than not to be to set aside these challenges by deciding not to take this case and lay to rest manufactured doubts about the legitimacy of Obama’s election before the inauguration.”

More than a dozen similar lawsuits have challenged Mr. Obama’s presidency based on his citizenship. Two of them are pending before the Supreme Court.

One appeal, filed by Pennsylvania attorney Philip J. Berg, argues that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and that his “certification of live birth” from Hawaii is falsified. Hawaiian officials said the birth records correctly list Mr. Obama’s birth as Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

A federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed Mr. Berg’s lawsuit, which prompted his appeal to the Supreme Court.

An appeal by Connecticut health food owner Cort Wrotnowski challenges the legitimacy of the presidential election based on questions of Mr. Obama’s eligibility as a dual national at birth. The Supreme Court’s justices are scheduled to discuss whether to grant his case a hearing at a private conference on Dec. 12.

Other lawsuits challenging Mr. Obama’s citizenship were thrown out by courts in Ohio and Washington state.