Israel Political Brief March 26, 2012: US Supreme Court rules federal courts can consider Jerusalem passport issue — Zivotofsky v. Clinton



Supreme Court rules federal courts can consider Jerusalem passport issue

Source: JTA, 3-26-12

US Supreme Court Opinion PDF — Zivotofsky v. Clinton

The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the lower courts the issue of whether Americans born in Jerusalem may list “Israel” on their passports — a ruling that drew praise from Jewish groups.

The decision delivered Monday was a success for the family of Jerusalem-born boy Menachem Zivotofsky. His family for years has sought to force the State Department to agree to state on his passport that he was born in Israel, citing a law passed by Congress in 2002.

President George W. Bush signed the law, but in doing so refused to implement it, citing executive prerogative in foreign policy. President Obama has continued that practice.

The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, overruled lower court decisions that had contended that the judicial branch does not have authority over this area since it is not the courts’ place to determine foreign policy.

“The courts are fully capable of determining whether this statute may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the  Executive by the Constitution,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

Justice Stephen Breyer dissented.

Most national Jewish groups backed the Zivotofskys, with many submitting friend of the court briefs on their behalf.

Among the first groups to welcome the latest decision was the Orthodox Union.

“With the ruling by the high court, Congressional policy on Jerusalem, ignored by successive Administrations, will get its day in court,” the O.U. said in a statement.

Israel Political Brief August 7, 2011: Jewish groups file Jerusalem brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Zivotofsky v. Clinton


Source: JTA, 8-7-11

American Jewish groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Jerusalem-born American citizens to have their birthplace listed as Israel on their birth certificates and passports.

Eleven major groups in a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Zivotofsky v. Clinton asked the high court to order the U.S. State Department to comply with a 2002 law that directs the secretary of state, “upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, [to] record the place of birth as Israel.”

The State Department manual currently allows that the passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem must say “Jerusalem” as the place of birth, reflecting official U.S. government policy regarding the unresolved status of Jerusalem, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which filed the brief.

The case involves 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, whose American-Israeli parents Ari and Naomi want his birth country listed as Israel on his passport.

Other organizations signing the brief are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

The names of Americans born in Jerusalem are still being collected on the website of the ad hoc Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel, which was established to raise awareness of the issue and legal challenge. More than 120 American citizens have registered so far.

“Americans born in Jerusalem should have the same right to indicate their country of birth on their passport that is currently available to other American citizens born abroad, and that is what Congress has mandated,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “The purpose of a passport is for identification, and it is indisputable that Jerusalem is in Israel. The Supreme Court should insist that the State Department follow the law.”

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