SCOTUS Sides With White House on Jerusalem Passports

Won't force State Dept. to list 'Israel' as birthplace
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2015 1:18 PM CDT
SCOTUS Sides With White House on Jerusalem Passports
In this 2014 file photo, Menachem and Ari Zivotofsky speak outside the Supreme Court, which struck down a law that let Americans born in Jerusalem list their birthplace as Israel on US passports.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

The United States Supreme Court weighed in today on a scuffle between the executive and legislative branches in the matter of Americans born in Jerusalem and whether they can list Israel as their birthplace on their US passports. In a 6-3 ruling, the New York Times reports that the Court sided with the White House in finding that Congress, vis a vis a 2002 law ignored by presidents George W. Bush and Obama, can't require the State Department to issue passports with Israel as birthplace and must instead list Jerusalem. State had warned that should the high court have sided with Congress instead, it could "provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world," USA Today notes. John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito dissented.

"Today’s decision is a first," wrote Roberts. "Never before has this court accepted a president’s direct defiance of an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs." The majority, meanwhile, held that the president has the constitutional authority to exclusively recognize foreign governments. "Recognition is an act with immediate and powerful significance for international relations, so the president's position must be clear," wrote Anthony Kennedy. "Congress cannot require him to contradict his own statement regarding a determination of formal recognition." (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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