News / USA

US Supreme Court to Review Jerusalem Birthplace Law

FILE - Detail of the West facade of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., March 7, 2011.
FILE - Detail of the West facade of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., March 7, 2011.
Reuters
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to weigh the constitutionality of a law that was designed to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem - the historic holy city claimed by Israelis and Palestinians - to have Israel listed as their birthplace on passports.
 
The case concerns a long-standing U.S. foreign policy that the president - and not Congress - has sole authority to state who controls Jerusalem. Seeking to remain neutral on the hotly contested issue, the U.S. State Department allows passports to name Jerusalem as a place of birth, but no country name is included.
 
The State Department, which issues passports and reports to the president, has declined to enforce the law passed by Congress in 2002, saying it violated the separation of executive and legislative powers laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
 
In court papers, President Barack Obama's administration said taking sides on the issue could “critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”
 
The government has noted that U.S. citizens born in other places in the region where sovereignty has not been established, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are similarly prevented from stating a country of birth on their passports.
 
In 2003, Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky, the parents of U.S. citizen Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem in 2002, filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce the law. They would like their son's passport to say he was born in Israel.
 
Since the founding of Israel in 1948, U.S. presidents have declined to state a position on the status of Jerusalem, leaving it as one of the thorniest issues to be resolved in possible future Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
 
When Republican President George W. Bush signed the 2002 law as part of a broader foreign affairs bill, he said that if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, it would “impermissibly interfere” with the president's authority to speak for the country on international affairs.
 
The issue reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 on the preliminary question of whether it was so political that it did not belong in the courts. The high court ruled 8-1 that the case could proceed, setting up a July 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck the law down.
 
An estimated 50,000 American citizens were born in Jerusalem and could, if they requested it, list Israel as their birthplace if the law was enforced.
 
While Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, few other countries accept that status. Most, including the United States, maintain their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of the state they aim to establish alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
 
Oral arguments and a decision are due in the court's next term, which begins in October and ends in June 2015.

The case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-628.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs