(JNS.org) The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday ruled that a decade-old law
enabling Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on U.S.
passports is unconstitutional because it infringes on the U.S. president’s
Jerusalem. A U.S. court said Tuesday that a law allowing Jerusalem-born citizens to list Israel on their passports is unconstitutional. Credit: Berthold Werner.
2003, Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky, the parents of Jerusalem-born Menachem
Zivotofsky, filed a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. State Department enforce
the law passed by Congress so that Menachem could list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on
his passport. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the appeals
court needed to rule on the enforcement issue.
Judge Karen Henderson of the appeals court’s three-judge panel wrote on Tuesday
that the U.S. president “exclusively holds the power to determine whether to
recognize a foreign sovereign.” This U.S. has not officially recognized Israel’s
sovereignty over Jerusalem since the Jewish state gained independence in 1948.
criticized the court’s decision. The Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations expressed hope that the Supreme
Court “will reverse this policy that discriminates singularly against Israel,
and will afford those born in Jerusalem the same right accorded to those born
elsewhere” if it hears the Zivotofsky case again.
practice in regard to the passport issue is inconsistent with legislation
passed by the Congress of the United States, recognizing united Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel,” the Conference of Presidents said.
Marc Stern, the American Jewish Committee’s
general counsel, said the ruling “undermines the existing
balance of power between the Congress and Executive branch in foreign policy.”
The appeals court “has effectively given a
stamp of approval to the offensive State Department policy that singles out
Israel for ‘special’ treatment,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“All other American citizens born abroad may
choose to list a city or area of birth instead of a country,” Foxman said.
“Even Taiwan-born U.S. citizens are permitted to identify Taiwan as their
birthplace, despite protests by China, the recognized sovereign over that