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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jerusalem Birth Issue Goes to High Court Again

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider the constitutionality of a law that lets U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem list "Israel" as their birthplace on passports.

Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2003 requires the secretary of state to record "Israel" as the birthplace on passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem who request it.

The secretary has not enforced this provision, however, believing that it overlaps with executive powers.

The parents of 10-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, born in Israel in 2002, invoked section 214(d) in a 2003 lawsuit against the secretary of state. They seek a court order requiring the government to register their son's birthplace as Israel instead of Jerusalem.

The government argued that such an order would contradict its position of neutrality on the issue of whether Israel or Palestine controls the holy city.

Though a federal judge and the D.C. Circuit had previously dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Supreme Court revived the action in 2012 after finding that the Zivotofskys simply wanted the courts to "enforce a specific statutory right," not side with Palestine or Israel.

On remand, the D.C. Circuit ruled that the law "impermissibly intrudes" on the president's "exclusive authority under the United States Constitution to decide whether and on what terms to recognize foreign nations."

The Supreme Court picked up the case again Monday, without issuing any comment, as is its custom.

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