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Supreme Court today deliberates suit blocking Obama presidency

(UPDATE: The Supreme Court had issued no statement on its discussions by the close of business Friday.)

It may come as something of a shock to those millions planning trips to Washington for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama that he isn't really legally capable of taking the oath.

It's the birth certificate thing. And we have a tendentious video below to show the kind of claims being made that he is not a "native-born" American.

That's because he was born in Kenya to an alien father and isn't a natural-born American as the Constitution requires and the copy of his Hawaii birth certificate looks fake to many and the state won't release the original, which makes everything that much more suspicious.

This controversy has been brewing for many months online with few taking it seriously. The Ticket wrote about it last June and again in August.

We published a birth certificate provided by the ObaBarack Obama's birth certificate as provided by his presidential campaignma presidential campaign, which has caused hundreds of commenters to argue back and forth over its authenticity, especially in recent weeks.

And we'll publish it again right here.

Crackpot controversy, you say. He's been accepted as a U.S. citizen.

But here's the thing: The United States Supreme Court officially takes up the issue of whether to ponder whether Obama can become president in formal discussions today in Washington.

What? Yup! A similar case was thrown out earlier this fall, but Justice Clarence Thomas distributed the legal papers in Donofrio vs. Wells to his court colleagues for legal conference today.

Hardly anyone thinks the case has a serious chance of ...

... succeeding, given the court's distaste for hanging chads and public disfavor for its involvement in settling the Al Gore-George W. Bush presidential contest over Florida in 2000.

Similar conspiracy efforts were mounted over John McCain having been born in a U.S. naval hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father was stationed. They too might well have proceeded had the Arizonan won on Nov. 4.

But just think what would happen if the court did consider blocking Obama's inauguration, with the world already having congratulated him and Obama's Cabinet half-formed, not to mention him already having resigned from the Senate. Oops.

You'll note that Sens. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have not yet taken that irreversible step. Just saying.

Our blogging colleague Frank James over at the Swamp has pulled together considerable material on the controversy:

A young Barack Obama now president-elect with a relative in Kenya his father's native country

The suit originally sought to stay the election, and was filed on behalf of Leo Donofrio against New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells.

Legal records show it is only the tip of an iceberg of nationwide efforts seeking to derail Obama's election over accusations that he either wasn't born a U.S. citizen or that he later renounced his citizenship in Indonesia.

In one of those delicious ironies that makes life so interesting, the justice who distributed the case to his colleagues was none other than Thomas, only the second African American to sit on the high court. One presumes the justices saw some legal issue to mull.

A recent Tribune story wrote: "The most famous case questioning Obama's citizenship was filed in Pennsylvania in August on behalf of Philip J. Berg and sought to enjoin the Democratic National Committee from nominating Obama.

"The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept the case. Earlier, a federal judge rejected it for "lack of standing" -- ruling that Berg had no legal right to sue. In cases like this, judges sometimes believe the matter is best left to political institutions, such as the Electoral College or Congress, according to legal scholar Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles."

The remaining case with the highest profile is Donofrio vs. Wells. Because it was distributed by Justice Thomas to other justices, it gained undue importance for people unschooled in how the court works, Volokh said.

But it was. Now come the court's discussions. And presumably some decision on deciding.

James has more on this much-ignored story over here.

--Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of the Obama Cabinet and inauguration, we'll have full Ticket coverage. To get cellphone alerts on each new item, register here. RSS feeds are also available here.

Photo credit: Family via Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (304)

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Prima facie

Its says that on the bottom of the certification, right?

I am a layman but it seems to me that Obama just has to show this document and he has done his part. It has to be proven that its false.

He has no other responsibility.

And where do all of these people get the idea that this document would not allow you to register for school, little league, or get a passport? That is exactly what it is designed to do.

I am amazed by the amount of people that are surprised by this article. This situation started in August 2008. For those who keep arguing about the issue: the Certification of Live Birth posted on the internet is NOT a birth certificate. There is an allegation that he was born in Kenya. Hawaii officials confirmed that they have Obama’s vault certificate however, they have not mentioned the place of birth inscribed on the REAL birth certificate. You can get a Certification of Live Birth fm Hawaii even if you were born in a foreign country. The legal requirements to become a U.S. citizen are not the same as to become the Pres of the U.S. (according to the US Constitution). The new media asked to see Sarah Palin’s {PRIVATE] health records but they will not ask for Obama’s vault birth certificate. Even a fifth grader should understand all these issues. Now repeat after me, a Certification of Live Birth is not a BIRTH CERTIFICATE, a Certification of Live Birth is not a BIRTH CERTIFICATE, a Certification of Live Birth is not a BIRTH CERTIFICATE…

So according the US constitution, Mr. Obama is a Natural Born US citizen! Natural Born US Citizen means you were born on US soil.

The United States of America iis a federal constitutional republic comprising 50 states. Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state on August 21, 1959. If I do my math correctly I would say that is approx. 2 years before the president elect was born (Aug. 4 1961). So unless there was a big conspiracy in 1961 to have Mr. Obama become the first black president in 2008, and thus the need to fake a birth certificate, there is really no point to have the conversation.

Traveling or living in another country does not make you a citizen of that country! Please don't be ignorant (at least, not publicly)!

I think Alan Keyes, Donofrio and all people obsessing about this to get over it! Alan Keyes is a sad, depressed, begrudging man! Donofrio is just insignificant, looking for his 15 minutes of fame. He should have just tried to get into a reality show (At least he'd get some money out of that)

These guys should all take their insignificant lives crawl into a deep dark hole and stay there! Mr. Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America on January 20th, 2009.

Since the Donofrio case is about the definition of "natural-born citizen" and asserts that dual citizenship at birth is the ultimate disqualifier, I have to say I don't see any evidence of that in the Constitution or in the federal law that spells out how one becomes a born citizen. Being born on U.S. soil qualifies you. That's it.

Maybe it's just me, but my theory is that Clarence Thomas opted to distribute the Donofrio case to the court primarily to appease Donofrio and stop him from bugging all the justices in succession. Donofrio already was turned down by Souter before he knocked on Thomas' door. I figure Clarence just sensed he'd keep on knocking, so he opted to "distribute" the case for today's agenda.

I'd bet all my cash that the court declines to hear the case today.

To "Texas Independent," who wrote:

"For those few Americans who are in fact prejudice[sic]; if you cannot accept blacks as equal human beings to whites, you're free to find another country of residence; we don't want racist citizens anymore. This is a new generation.....thank God."

First of all, it IS important that Obama comes clean on the birth certificate issue. The Hawaiian copy DOES NOT have a state seal embossed into it as all others do.

Secondly, you attack "poor losers." Does ACORN ring a bell? Also, one of the people suing for this information is Alan Keyes, a black man who ran against him in his Senate race. The intent of the suit wan not racially based. Why would you resort to such lengths to provoke?

Also - you want all 'racists' out of the country. In other words, anyone who disagrees with you. Ever hear of the First Amendment? Or is is that same amendment you want to destroy? I deplore racism myself, but they are Americans, after all, and one of them, as a fellow American, would quickly come to your aid in certain situations.

In summary, there appear to be some reasonable disputes over the legitimacy of the birth certificate. Another document in 1966 showed his faith as 'Muslim,' and his citizenship as 'Indonesian.' Not an official document of any kind, but does bring up some questions.

I'm Texan myself, and did not vote for Obama, given that he had no legislative accomplishments other than naming a post office and promoting democracy in The Congo. BUT, the people have spoken, and I accept the results. I wish no ill to Mr. Obama, and his moves to date have been quite well thought out, in my view. However, citizenship should not be in question. Just think of what you would be writing if "Ahnold" had run.

For the good of the country, Obama should produce a legitimate document; the State of Hawaii should not be 'sealing it away' and we can go on with our lives. For my country's sake, I hope it's legit. We're not all sore losers, unlike the unremitting whining I've heard for the last 8 years from people just like you.

Another Texan

The American Indians ...the only natural born Citizens. The rest of you are just hyphenated American: Americans who are of foreign origin. So, unless your last name is Cochise, just shut up.

Wow! Andrew Malcom certainly belongs to the fringe element of the conservative movement. Obama *was* born in the US. He has provided a copy of his birth certificate online, and the Hawaii government has confirmed its authenticity. Maybe Andrew was merely repeating what the anti-Obama people believe when he stated that Obama doesn't wasn't born in the US, but it doesn't appear that way.

As for the rest of the lunatic fringe here who actually believes that Obama wasn't, or even might not be born in the US, you might want to check out or I know you all hate Obama so much and don't really think any Democrat should be president, but too bad. And when you start loving our country more than you hate Democrats, maybe the rest of the country will start taking you seriously.

How many times did GW Bush ignore the Constitution and many other laws during his Presidency.

To deny Obama the right to be President now would evoke a reaction that would pale in comparison to what happened when the Supreme Court appointed Bush President.

Do you think they are stupid enough to do it twice?

Hmmmm....let's see...this is the USA and you folks voted Bush in twice despite the fact he lied and disregarded the rights of the citizens.

Hold your breath. staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.


One more thing: Apparently the nutjobs are trying out a new line of attack, claiming that because Obama *might* have had dual citizenship, he is not a natural born citizen. That has never been established in a court of law, though the right wing fringe posters on this site want to claim it has. The general understanding of "natural born American citizen " is someone who is born in the US. I doubt the US Supreme Court will change that definition and void an election.

What is with the "sore loser " stuff. This has been going on for a year!! Obama could have shut it down in 1 day by sending his lawyer to court with the real bith certificate.....end of case for all parties. I am surprised that defendants like NJ and DNC didn't raise hell with him and tell him to end it.
But there are more troubling details. Indonesia years...what status?, return to Hawaii (passport ? visa?) and most troubling.....the trip that he referenced in his Pakistan. US citizens were not permitted to travel to Pakistan at the time, and Obama traveled on an Indonesian does that work.????
I hope he proves all of this to be bunk....otherwise I get the creepy feeling that he is getting over on everyone.


can everyone look at the center bottom of the document it shows the an inverted dated stamp from the back. dated 2007! this is when this document was made

A certifiacte of live birth does not equal a birth certificate. Parents have up to one year to order it if they left the state and had their children aborad.

If he, Obama, is legit then producing all of the documents can only help him. Most, not all, but most of those millions of people who know about this and question his citizenship will be satisfied and at least support him on the issues they agree with.

If he is not legit then it needs to be proven now and not later. If he takes office and is found to be ineligable later then every law signed, appointment made, and executive order issued will be null. Every case decided by any judicial appointee will be null. I think even those who consider this a non-issue should be able to see why the questions need to be answered now and not later.

The document being displayed at the top of this page is a certificate of live birth. It is not a birth certificate. If you have questions about this matter, please do some research. You eill find that Obama is hiding something and that Philip Berg is not insane.

Sticks and stones may break my bones . . . .

Throw the case out. Let Arnold run in '12. Wny not? It is waay too late, and believe me, I was crying in my bourbon the night Obambi was elected.

FYI: VPE Joe Biden has already resigned in Senate seat.

PE Obama is a US citizen who was born in Honolulu, HI, on August 4, 1961.

The man won. Get over it.

Bush has been shredding the constitution for years, and now you idiots want to bring it up. The election is over , done, finished.

"can everyone look at the center bottom of the document it shows the an inverted dated stamp from the back. dated 2007! this is when this document was made

Posted by: matt"

Matt, each time you purchase a birth certificate, the DATE it was purchased is stamped on it. I had to purchase another birth certificate for each of my sons. The date I purchased it is stamped on it.

Posted by: Paul | December 05, 2008 at 01:13 PM

When did FactCheck replace Party, State and Federal officials in vetting candidates for POTUS?

"Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu."
This is incorrect. All they said is they have a long form BC on file. They did not confirm that he was born in Hawaii.

You call millions of people "nutjobs" just for standing up and requesting that the Constitution be honored. I call it being an American!

Yes, Blinky, you are a sore loser. As I pointed out, has already affirmed the authenticity of the birth certificate, as has the Hawaiian Department of Health. He can't produce the certificate in court because the courts have never demanded it of him.

As for the rest of your conspirtorial garbage, you might try actually checking the facts and sources of what you read. You might be shocked that the right wing is feeding you a bunch of garbage. (And that goes for the rest of the nutjobs who actually think there are questions about Obam's citizenship.)

Obama's refusal to produce documentation of US citizenship proves that he is hiding something. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees for the purpose of suppressing information. He is a consummate elitist and is perpetrating a gargantuan fraud on the American people

"You are deluded and wasting everyone's time if you cannot prove your claims. Simply stating them is not PROOF.

Posted by: GoBigO | December 05, 2008 at 11:43 AM "

Exactly, Obama must produce proof!

If this is a copy of the original birth certificate filed with the State of Hawii, expalin why the Doc. date is from 11/01 not from 1961. Usualy photo copies are made from the original document on file and then stamped with the seal from the issuing facility, and signed by an legally notarized representative from that organization.

If this case holds any water either way it goes, is not going to be good news.

I didn't vote for him but this is ridiculous. If he didn't qualify to run for president, he should have been disqualified in the primary. Enough already. I'm resigned to 4 years with Obama.

There is No Legal definition for the phrase NATURAL BORN CITIZEN.

Historically, the phrase has only been applied to those who were born within the States and Territories of the USA, the issue of parental citizenship has never been legally contested.

The Senate passed a resolution that recognized that John McCain was eligible to run for the Office of the President even though he was born in the Canal Zone of Panama in 1936, which was not a Territory. Since, according to a State Department manual, U.S. military installations abroad cannot be considered "part of the United States" and "A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."

"No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States."

If the Supreme Court even takes the case, we should assume that the Republican conservative appointees are doing the bidding of the rightwing ideologues who put them on the Court. If the Court prevents Obama from being inaugurated, there will be blood on the streets, and blood on the hands of those who hijacked the election and thwarted the clear will (as even McCain conceded) of the majority of the American people.

Why dosn't Obama provide a real birth certificate? Makes me suspicious

This suit should be no surprise to anyone. If you remember McCain’s citizenship was challenged too, even though he was born in a US Naval Hospital.

How ironic it is that an illegal alien can give birth within 5 minutes of entering the border and her child is automatically an natural-born citizen of the United States. With this wonderful gift, she can use it to get FREE everything to raise her child so he/she can grow up to run for President. The sad fact is that this "gift" is given to an "illegal" taking advantage; on the other hand, Obama's mother is a legal citizen (via generations!), and just because she gave birth OUTSIDE the borders, her American son has to prove he's a real citizen. You know what: those who have an issue with Obama are just SORE LOSERS and you ALSO use the Constitution to abuse the truth.

A Certificate of Live Birth (all that Obama has produced) is a document that Hawaii allows for a person to file a birth record if the parents resided in HI prior to the birth. You do not have to be born in HI to get their COLB. I've heard tell that Obama's mother went to Kenya to visit his father and was too far along to return to HI for his birth, so he was born in Kenya and then returned to HI and filed for the COLB. His paternal grandmother said she was present at his birth in Kenya. No one has seen his original Birth Certificate with the name of the hospital and the delivering doctor. His health records and college records are sealed (citizenship issue?) What kind of passport did he have when he went to Pakistan? These are very crucial questions and the answers need to come out now rather than later. It will come out - sometime - somewhere - and if he's been sworn in and he's ineligible - it will present tons of problems. He's hiding something and it needs to be proven that he's eligible to be President by being a natural-born citizen of the U.S. He needs to be forced to provide proof. He has layers of lawyers protecting him but the Constitution should still prevail' We the People demand it.

He won in a landslide people, we the people have spoken, but once again the media has to dramatize this. Obama and McCain couldn't be anymore american than they are. Get real, get a life and focus on more important things. Like maybe the economy dummies, theres a thought. Oh yeah, Clarence Thomas must be a Republican!

Whatever the outcome, it's become very obvious over the past years, the continuous assault on the constitution. There are those out there, who believe it should be bent, shaped, changed to fit their needs and desires, according to these times. Our constitution has protected this great country for hundreds of years and will continue to do so, if we abide by it,as citizens of this great country!

There was no "conspiracy effort" over John McCain's birth in Panama. Any "effort" that occurred was done tongue-in-cheek to point out the ridiculousness of these charges.

All of the people who are pushing this story, every single one of you, is delusional. You are doing nothing but embarrassing yourselves with your ignorance. This is what comes of 30 years of conservative rule in this country. A population lacking the ability to think in a rational manner.

No wonder our country is falling apart.

Some republicans just need to let go, YOU LOST. He is going to be president wheather you like it or not so suck it up.

OK... If this is indeed the original birth certificate from the State of Hawaii, then it is an outright fraud!!

ALL government documents and certificates have revision dates printed on them. This is the last date in which the form was revised and approved for use.

If you gander to the lower left corner of this certificate, you will see (in small priint) a revision date of 11/01. But how can this be??? If Obama was born in 1961!!

The certificate does not say DUPLICATE or RE-ISSUE (which it most certainly would if it were so). Did Obama have to wait 40 years for the state to issue him a certificate of live birth?? Doubtful as is impossible.

The document itself is evidence that it is a fraud!!


The constitution is very clear on this point and for good reason. So that politicals could not install a foriegnor that did not believe in the constituion, but wanted empire like control. If he is not a born citizen he must not be allowed to take office, no matter how far this has gone on. The supreme court must require the release of all imfo concerning this matter, and I mean everything and or stop him from taking office

This is Clarence Thomas' petty way of "getting back" at Obama, because said he would not have picked him to serve on the S.C. Another example of what a idiotic, egotistical POS Thomas is.

I have been following the Berg case since it started. The Donofrio case is new to me, but in either case all Obama had to do was present the documentation needed to silence these people. His spending thousands of dollars to fight it does not make any sense unless he is hiding something. His platform for the highest office in this country was supposidly about change. Change from lies and misinformation. If he is as pure as those who voted for him believe him to be then he needs to show the documentation and end this whole episode. We then can unite and work to get our country back on the right track. This has nothing to do with "sour grapes". This has to do with upholding our country's laws. These laws are what give us the freedoms we value and what makes this country so unique. Even with its flaws its the best place to live in the whole wide world. Why else would thousands of people flock here to live? Let Thomas and the other Justices do their job and pray that they do it well.

this is sad! after serving our country in senate and 2 years of trying to slander in every way by the republican campign...I as a loyal american who has seen the constitution trashed under the present administration ....i say america is supposed to be a democracy!...that means the majority of people rule if i am correct in that interpretation, so therefore ...doesn't make any difference since pres. elect obama was chosen overwhelmingly by the american people(the majority of the country).. so why create more chaos with this unfairness and stupidity for another power grab by people who want to destroy america and the right of the people to chose what they want.... more example of corruption since bush appointed several to supreme courts , i believe.

Don't much care either way, but I heard with "my own 2 ears" an interview with the US Ambassador to Kenya. He readily admitted that there is a memorial marking Obama's Birthplace in Kenya. GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!

After what the right wing nuts and Bush did to the people are totally nuts to pursue this.

For Gd's sake haven't you had enough crap with the current administration? Haven't enough military and innocent Iraqi's dies because of the stupidity of the man and his henchmen.

The right wing will go to any lengths to destroy the USA all in the name of a mythical god who apparently speaks to them on a regular basis.

Are you people for real?
Has any of you ever gotten a copy of their birth certificate? Yeah it gets stamped for what date the copy was made and it gets notarized on the back or front for who delivered the copy to you. The state keeps the original.
Also anything about his father being a citizen of Kenya has no bearing on Obama's citizenship unless he was born outside of the US. If you are born on US soil you are a US citizen natural born, period.

If Obama and the Democrats new this was an issue and didn't show ALL official certificates and documents who becomes President in Jan? Why shouldn't we uphold the Constitution? And where is the unbiased news media in all this?

Hey Bergs case was not, I repeat was not rejected as of yet. His supplemental brief for an injunction to hold stay the election was denied but its on, this the break of dawn. Go to SCOTUS and look at the Docket.
Can reporter take five minutes and research this stuff. The media may just ignore this one right out of the ball park. It use to be that journalists went out and got a story but now they go out and get a cup of coolaid from an Obama hack. I hope you all like your coolaid now because we may not have it when Obama Pelosi, Reid, Frank, and Billlery get us all in a depression. It will be ok though they will provide bread lines.

Factcheck NEVER saw the ORIGINAL birth cert. they saw the Cert of Live Birth. not LEGAL, NOT THE SAME

Bush violating the Constitution?

The DNC paid Lawyers $22 million to find ANY precident to Impeach AND THEY COULD NOT PROVE IT!!!!!!!!!


What a farce!! another worthless waste of time and space!
What this world needs is to get rid of extremists...yes both the liberal and conservative extremists is why this world is so screwed up.

President elect Obama was born in HI not Kena.

If he had not be a "natural born" citizen he would not have
been allowed to run for president.

HE WON!!! Get over it and let the man most of us voted for do his job and help bring this country back to the right path.

His mother was 18 when born and she had to be 19 at the time to have her child qualify for natural born, if another parent was not an American citizen.

Obama is ineligible. Period.

I hope the Supreme Court does the right thing. This guy is the biggest FRAUD in American history.

His name is Barry Soetoro.

So many idiots and so little time!

The issue is COMPLEX you idiots! Not everyone here but way too many! Get your facts STRAIGHT! The certificate that he published on line was FAKE...established fact. Furthermore, his SISTER's is identical to the one he has and she WAS born in Indonesia!

Add to that that he renounced his American citizenship when he was adopted by an Indonesian step-father and NO documentation exists it was ever reinstated! Not to mention that his mother WAS under 19 and his father WAS Kenyan and I have seen the documents of the paternal Grandmother stating very clearly that he WAS born in Kenya!

Why don't all of you "nutjobs" get real and realize that the Constitution is the ONLY thing that keeps Americans free and must be followed faithfully and carefully! Why don't you also ask Obama why he has worked so hard to HIDE ALL of his personal records from the public? Maybe because he attended college as a foreign national who got money from the country where he maintained his "other" citizenship? Maybe because his Mother and Father weren't really married and his DAD was Marshal Davis? Maybe a LOT of things and I have no damn idea what the truth really is...but I do know he has spent a lot of time and money trying to HIDE the truth from the American people.

So WAKE UP NUTJOBS and realize that only the truth matter how much you dislike it or find it distasteful. As for McCain, he ponied up IMMEDIATELY and proved he was legit. And I am a DEMOCRAT and NOT a REPUBLICAN. But since Obama wasn't being forthcoming OR truthful about his past and lied to us about FISA, I voted for Cynthia McKinney which also proves I am NOT a racist! Since WHEN does the truth no longer matter? Since when is the U.S. Constitution ONLY a piece of paper?

Do your homework for heaven's sake before you make stupid comments!

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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