SCOTUS: Born in Jerusalem? You’re not from Israel

By Faye Higbee

In a 6-3 ruling today, the Supreme Court says that if you were born in Jerusalem, you can’t say that you were born in Israel on your passport.  No, this is not a satire post.

Jerusalem-born American, Menachem Zivotofsky, and his U.S. citizen parents filed a lawsuit 12 years ago regarding a 2002 law that stated that Americans could use Israel as their place of birth if they were born in Jerusalem. Now, instead, they will be required to list their birthplace as “Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem has long been disputed as the capital of Israel. The court’s ruling says that Congress overstepped its bounds when it approved the 2002 law, which President Bush signed. But even when he signed it, he reiterated that US policy toward Jerusalem had not changed.


The US policy

The United States has long held that it will not recognize one state over another in regards to Jerusalem.  Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. “Negotiations” have always faltered over this every issue. It all came down to who thought the President should decide or whether Congress has a part in it.

Israel has had control over all of Jerusalem since the 1967 war. Several European nations have recognized a Palestinian State, and the UN is set to take up that issue in September.

Fox News wrote:

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the president has the exclusive power to recognize foreign nations, and that the power to determine what a passport says is part of this power.

“Recognition is a matter on which the nation must speak with one voice. That voice is the president’s,” Kennedy wrote.

The ruling ends a 12-year-old lawsuit by a Jerusalem-born American, Menachem Zivotofsky, and his U.S. citizen parents.

Justice Antonin Scalia read a summary of his dissent from the bench, saying the Constitution “divides responsibility for foreign affairs between Congress and the president.” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joined the dissent.

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome of the case, but on narrower grounds.