Supreme Court won't hear Obama citizenship case

Without comment, the justices declined to consider a lawsuit that contends both Barack Obama and John McCain are ineligible for the presidency.

Published December 8, 2008 4:30PM (EST)

The people hoping the Supreme Court would step in and save them from a president who's allegedly ineligible to hold the office got a big disappointment Monday morning: Without comment, the justices declined to hear a case on the issue.

Most of the people challenging President-elect Barack Obama's qualifications for the presidency claim he was not born in the United States, or at least has not shown proof that he was. The suit at issue in this case, though, conceded that Obama was born in Hawaii, but contended that because at birth he recieved British citizenship through his father, as well as U.S. citizenship through his mother, he could not be considered a "natural-born" citizen, which is the Constitutional requirement. Leo Donofrio, who brought the case, also claims that John McCain would not be eligible to be president either, as he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

There's almost no chance this will be the end of the controversy. It's incredibly difficult -- in fact, just about impossible -- to convince people who believe in conspiracy theories like this one that their belief is mistaken. As Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, told me for an article I wrote on Friday that focused on the psychology of this kind of conspiracy theory, "There's no amount of evidence or data that will change somebody's mind. The more data you present a person, the more they doubt it."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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