It appears that Leo Donofrio has once again left the building. According to a comment on his blog, he has given up his license to practice law and moved on. Nevertheless, his legacy lives on in the minds of those Americans who now believe in the legal theory Donofrio invented in 2008, namely that US Presidents must be born in the United States to two citizen parents.
Thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, we can look at early writings from Leo Donofrio. This one from December 19, 2008, caught my eye:
And so, as is so very clearly established by the supreme court in Minor and Wong Kim Ark1, there are now, and have always been, doubts about whether people born in the US to foreign parents are “natural born citizens”, or, as the Court in Minor discussed, whether such persons are even “citizens”.
To emphasize that, Donofrio graphically illustrated his point:
Look at the headline: “SCOTUS … in ‘Minor v. Happersett’ … punted on ‘Natural Born Citizen.’”
Compare this to his 2012 Amicus brief filed in Farrar v. Obama in Georgia, which birthers are filing with their ballot challenges today:
President Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States, as defined by the United States Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1874), wherein the Court identified, as natural-born citizens, only those who are born in the United States of citizen parents.
Mr. Donofrio clearly understood Minor v. Happersett in 2008. How did a doubt become an emphatic denial? How did “punted” become “defined?” Minor v. Happersett hasn’t changed. Donofrio didn’t go back to law school. What happened?
I’m trying to give up negative speculation about people for Lent.
1Given the willingness of courts (e.g. Georgia, Indiana and Virginia) to cite US v. Wong supporting Obama’s eligibility as President, I think that Donofrio is wrong here when he says that this case acknowledges ongoing doubt. In fact, it removed those doubts.