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High Court Takes Up Jerusalem Birth Dispute

(CN) - The Supreme Court agreed Monday to intervene in a case that asks the judicial branch to determine whether Jerusalem is a part of Israel so that two U.S. citizens can record Israel as the official birthplace of their Jerusalem-born son.

Ari and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky asked federal courts to direct the secretary of state to recognize Israel as the birthplace of their son, Menachem, who will be 9 in October.

A federal judge in Washington dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed, finding that the Zivotofskys' complaint raised a "nonjusticiable political question." The judges refused to take a stance where the United States did not.

"That the United States expresses no official view on the thorny issue of whether Jerusalem is part of Israel has been a central and calibrated feature of every president's foreign policy since Harry S. Truman," Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the panel.

"Because the judiciary has no authority to order the Executive Branch to change the nation's foreign policy in this matter, this case is unquestionably under the political question doctrine."

The doctrine protects the judiciary from political entanglements by allowing courts to decline cases which are deemed best left to the "political" branches of government.

In agreeing to review the case on Monday, the Supreme Court directed the Zivotofskys and Secretary Hillary Clinton to brief the justices as to "whether Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, impermissibly infringes the President's power to recognize foreign sovereigns."

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