Tags: Israel | Supreme Court | Jerusalem | passports | Israel | Palestinians | supreme court

Supreme Court Divided Over Jerusalem's Place on Passports

Tuesday, 04 November 2014 09:07 AM

The Supreme Court is deeply divided over whether the government should permit Americans born in Jerusalem to claim Israel as their birthplace on passports, The Washington Post reported.

The case stems from the fact that, for decades, U.S. presidents have been careful to avoid the issue of whether Israel holds sovereignty over the holy city.

Since the days of President Harry Truman, the U.S. government has maintained that Jerusalem's dominion should be settled through Middle East peace talks.

The court is split based on ideology, with liberal members backing the Obama administration view that the 2002 passport law, signed by President George W. Bush, suggests it would be unconstitutional to put "Israel" on the document because it would be setting the nation's foreign policy, the Post said.

Conservatives justices, on the other hand, embrace the view that Congress was simply enabling "self-identification" of people born to Americans in the holy city, and that it does not affect the recognition issue, according to the newspaper.

Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to be looking for some form of a compromise, such as a passport disclaimer by the president, while he also suggested that the top court must concede to the executive branch in cases involving foreign affairs.

"What goes on a passport as a place of birth is not tantamount to recognizing foreign sovereignty," said attorney Alyza Lewin, representing 12-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky's parents, who have been fighting since their son's birth to have Israel listed on his passport.

The Post estimates there are 50,000 people like young Menachem, who could be affected by the Zivotofsky v. Kerry case before the Supreme Court.

Justice Antonin Scalia threw his support behind Lewin, saying that if Congress has the power to declare war on foreign countries, then it must have a say in passports.

"Your main position is this is not recognition. It just has an effect on the State Department's desire to make nice with the Palestinians, and your position is Congress has no compulsion to follow that," Scalia told Lewin.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. also backed Lewin, noting that the U.S. government already recognizes that Israel has controlled most of the city since 1967.

"Our decision isn't going to be based on any view that we may have about whether Jerusalem should be regarded as part of Israel or the capital of Israel," Alito said.

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The Supreme Court is deeply divided over whether the government should permit Americans born in Jerusalem to claim Israel as their birthplace on passports, The Washington Post reported.
Jerusalem, passports, Israel, Palestinians, supreme court
391
2014-07-04
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 09:07 AM
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