Monday, 8 December 2008

A British Obama?

An American lawsuit claiming that Barack Obama is 'too British' to be President of the United States has been turned down by the US Supreme Court.

The appeal claimed that when he was born he had held 'foreign citizenship' - even though he had been born in Hawaii - and therefore he shouldn't be eligible to run for and hold the Presidential Office.

His father was a citizen of Kenya, which at the time of Obama's birth was under British juristiction. The case argued that because of this, Obama would have been been a British citizen 'at birth'.

The Telegraph have said that the case gained a high profile as it was distributed to Supreme Court Justices by Justice Clarence Thomas - who Barack Obama said he would not have nominated.

Constitutional Rules

Article II, section 1 of the US Constitution requires that "no person except a natural born citizen" is eligible to be President.

This means that the country's leader cannot have emigrated to the US, no matter how long they have lived in the country.

This rule only applies to the Presidency: hence the Governor of California is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was born is Austria. Under the constitutional rules he cannot run for President.

Hawiian Birth Certificate

According to the BBC News website, Barack Obama's aides posted his birth ceritificate on the internet during the election campaign.

It stated that he was born in Hawaii; and therefore was a 'natural born' citizen of the United States.

It showed that he was born on the 4th August 1961, in Hawaii, and was verified by Hawiian officials - clearing up any possible accusations of non-citizenship that may have been around during the campaign.


The lawsuit was brought about by a retired lawyer from New Jersey, called Leo Donofrio, and was one of many that claimed Obama did not abide by the constitution and therefore could not be President of America.

Although it agreed that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and had a Hawaiian birth certificate, it argued that he was still born with foreign citizenship.

It stated that:

Since Barack Obama's father was a citizen of Kenya, and therefore subject to the juristiction of the United Kingdom at the time of Senator Obama's birth, then Senator Obama was a British citizen 'at birth', just like the framers of the Constitution and therefore, even if he were to produce an original birth
certificate proving he were born on US soil, he still wouldn't be eligible to be president.

Other Cases

This was not the only case that was brought to the Supreme Court's attention on the subject of Obama's right to be President.

A second, from the Pennsylvanian lawyer Philip Berg, suggested that the circumances surrounding Obama's birth are unclear - and he could in fact have been born in Kenya.

It suggests that Obama has a Hawaiian birth certificate as his mother flew to the state in order to register his birth - therefore giving him American citizenship.

Surprisingly, this suggestion has gained a number of backers who believe the birth certificate is suspicious. This blog by SodaHead has more details on the case.

Tenuous Link

The lawyer has also contended that both John McCain, and Roger Calero of the Socialist Workers, are also not eligible to run for president as they are not 'natural born citizens'.

The electoral race for President has been closely watched by many countries, as the world asked 'was America about the see their first black President?'

Although Barack managed to keep the race issue largely out of the limelight, it cannot be ignored that he will go down in the history as the first black President.

And while this is the case, could it not be argued that these attempts to stop Obama becoming President are simply attempts to stop a black man leading America?

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