Court strikes down 'born in Jerusalem' passport law

2015-06-08 18:10
US flag (Picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a> )

US flag (Picture: Shutterstock )

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The Supreme Court struck down a disputed law on Monday that would have allowed Americans born in Jerusalem to list their birthplace as Israel on their US passports in an important ruling that underscores the president's authority in foreign affairs.

The court ruled 6-3 that Congress overstepped its bounds when it approved the law in 2002. It would have forced the state department to alter its long-standing policy of not listing Israel as the birthplace for Jerusalem-born Americans.

The policy is part of the government's refusal to recognize any nation's sovereignty over Jerusalem, until Israelis and Palestinians resolve its status through negotiations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the president has the exclusive power to recognise 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 US citizen parents.

In the voting breakdown, the court's four liberals, including the three Jewish justices, joined Kennedy's opinion that sided with the administration and against the Zivotofskys. 

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.

Palestinian state 

The court's consideration of the case has coincided with acute Palestinian-Israeli tension over Jerusalem and strain in Israeli-American relations highlighted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of the US role in international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. For his part, President Barack Obama has said he remains unconvinced by Netanyahu's efforts to clarify pre-election statements rejecting creation of a Palestinian state.

The status of Jerusalem has for decades been among the most vexing issues in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel has controlled all of Jerusalem since the Six-Day War in 1967 and has proclaimed a united Jerusalem as its eternal capital. The Palestinians have declared that east Jerusalem will be the capital of their independent state.

US policy has long refrained from recognising any nation's sovereignty over Jerusalem and has held that the city's status should be resolved through negotiations between the parties. Congress has for years tried to push administrations of both parties to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The US has never enforced the passport law, on the books since 2002.

The justices had Zivotofsky's case before them once before. In 2012, the court rejected lower court decisions that called the matter a political issue that should be resolved by Congress and the president without the help of the courts.

The federal appeals court in Washington then struck down the law as an unconstitutional intrusion by Congress on the president's authority over foreign affairs.

Congress and the White House have argued for decades over support for Israel's position on Jerusalem.

In 1995, Congress essentially adopted the Israeli position, saying the US should recognise a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In 2002, lawmakers passed new provisions urging the president to take steps to move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to have their place of birth listed as Israel.

President George W Bush signed the 2002 provisions into law but noted that "US policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed." Obama has taken the same stance.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/World

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.