Justice Breyer Enters Birther Debate

Stephen Breyer got into talks of whether those born outside the U.S. can be president.


Chances are that if those who question President Obama’s American birth, like Donald Trump, get a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, there could be a lively and unpredictable debate. At a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this month, Justice Stephen Breyer waded into the white-hot discussion of whether those born outside the 50 states can be president. His comments came when Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano, a Democrat and Puerto Rico native, asked if he could be president. “That still hasn’t been settled,” Serrano said. “Does the person get aggrieved [and sue] at the time I declare my candidacy, or do I have to be elected first?” Breyer took the bait. “Why would anyone be aggrieved if you were running for president? Wouldn’t they be pleased?” he said before quoting the Constitution: “It says no person except a natural-born citizen. Well?” Serrano chimed in, “I’m a natural born citizen.” Breyer: “OK.” A gleeful Serrano: “I can’t believe we just had a Supreme Court decision.” A vague Breyer: “Well, you said you are a natural-born citizen.” Serrano said, “Well that’s what I believe I am,” before assuring the hearing room that he would not make a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.


  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.
  • Vote now: Is Trump serious about running for president?
  • Get the latest Washington news delivered to your inbox.