U.S. Supreme Court strikes down law allowing ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ on passports

"Supreme Sabra Snub." Credit: FeinTooner.

(JNS.org) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a law that enabled Americans born in Jerusalem—which the U.S. government does not recognize as a part of any country—to list “born in Israel” on their passports, on the grounds that Congress overstepped the president’s authority on foreign affairs. 

In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court said that “the power to recognize foreign states and governments and their territorial bounds is exclusive to the Presidency.” The case in question involved a 12-year-old boy, Menachem Zivotofsky, whose parents sought to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on his U.S. passport. 

The U.S. government does not recognize any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and maintains that its status must be resolved through negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Israel took control of he eastern portion of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and considers the entire city to be its eternal and undivided capital. 

In 2002, Congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which included a section that mandated recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the time, president George W. Bush signed the law, but issued a statement saying that it violates the president’s foreign relations authority.  

Additionally, Congress has called on the U.S. to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem through the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. But presidents Bill Clinton, Bush, and Barack Obama have all delayed the move out of “national security concerns.”

“We are, of course, disappointed by today’s ruling by the Supreme Court. But we are more disappointed by the persistent policy of the United States government—carried out by successive presidents—to treat the capital city of Israel with less respect than that accorded to capital cities of virtually every other nation,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Diament added, “Jerusalem is unquestionably the capital of Israel. It is where Israel’s president resides, parliament sits, and supreme court convenes. Moreover, over history, Jerusalem has only ever served as a capital city for the Jewish people—as it does today. Even after this court decision, it is high time for the U.S. Administration to acknowledge the reality of Israel’s capital—Jerusalem.”

Posted on June 8, 2015 .