ABC NEWS GETS THE DONOFRIO SCOTUS STORY WRONG
[UPDATE 7:36 pm Terry Owens of ABC News has somewhat corrected his story, but it’s still misleading. Here’s what it says now:
“The lawsuit was filed by attorney Leo Donofrio who is questioning Obama’s citizenship.”
It’s misleading because I believe Obama is a United States citizen. I am not questioning his “citizenship”, I’m questioning “natural born citizenship”. The Constitution uses the two terms, “Citizen” and “Natural Born Citizen” exclusively as they mean different things. If Mr. Owns will change the article once more to reflect what I’ve said above, I’ll be happy to remove the blog below and credit his correction. ]
Below is the text of a letter I just sent to ABC News:
Dear Mr. Terry Owens and ABC News.
The story you printed today with the headline, “Supreme Court to Decide Obama Citizenship” is riddled with errors. Allow me to correct the record for you. I have said in my law suit that I believe Obama was born in Hawaii, so I have no idea why your story makes it seem as if my law suit is centered on the issue of where Obama was born. You wrote,
“The President-elect has maintained he was born in the United States.”
The main argument of my law suit alleges that since Obama was a British citizen – at birth – a fact he admits is true, then he cannot be a “natural born citizen”. The word “born” has meaning. It deals with the status of a presidential candidate “at birth”. Obama had dual nationality at birth. The status of the candidate at the time of the election is not as relevant to the provisions of the Constitution as is his status “at birth.” If one is not “born” a natural born citizen, he can never be a natural born citizen.
Furthermore, the case is scheduled for conference of all nine Justices, not eight. You should correct that.
And your reporting, which could have been complete with a simple phone call to the Public Information Office, is also deficient in that it wasn’t Justice Thomas alone who distributed the case for conference of December 5, 2008. That was a decision taken after consideration of the full Court.
There are two docket entries for Nov. 19. One of them shows that Justice Thomas referred the case to the full court. The other indicates that the full court distributed the case for conference of Dec. 5. I suggest you call Patricia McCabe Estrada, Deputy Public Information Officer for the United States Supreme Court. She will set you and your story straight.
The case could have easily been denied after Justice Thomas referred it to the full court. There was no requirement that it be distributed for conference. In fact, the normal procedure in referred applications involves no public mention of such cases until after the full Court has taken some action. There is an official Supreme Court Publication entitled
It will guide you with accuracy to the actions involved in the case you are reporting upon. On page 3, it states:
Now go back and check the docket url for my case.
Another misleading element of your story is the headline. The Supreme Court will be focused on the issue of Obama’s eligibility to be President, not on his citizenship status. Just being a “Citizen” is not enough to be President. I have no doubt, and I’m sure the Supreme Court concurs, that Obama is a United States citizen.
But the Constitution draws a direct distinction between “Citizens” and “Natural Born Citizens”. Citizens may be Senators and Representatives, but it takes something else to be President. So, your headline is wrong as well as your story.
If you would like to respond to this letter, which I have just published in my blog about the case, feel free to do so and I will publish your response as is.
Yesterday, a reporter from the Kansas City Star wrote an equally misleading report about my case. After readers of this blog confronted him, he had the decency to call me and apologize for the wrong treatment my case received in his report. We struck up a good conversation and I gave him proper respect for his admission. I am here to talk any time you like. I understand the concepts are technical and non-lawyers have problems with them.
Leo C. Donofrio