WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that the federal courts should decide whether a law that would allow Jerusalem-born Americans to list Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. The justices, on an 8-1 judgment, overturned a lower court ruling that said the judiciary could not get involved in a political fight mixing Middle Eastern politics with a dispute between Congress and the president. But because the lower courts never actually ruled on the merits of the law giving Americans born in Jerusalem the right to have Israel listed as their birthplace — only that judges should not get involved — Roberts said the high court did not have enough facts to determine the law’s constitutionality. The parents of Jerusalem-born Menachem Zivotofsky sued the State Department after it would not issue the boy a passport showing he was born in Israel. At the time, Jerusalem was divided, with Israel controlling the western part of the city and Jordan holding sway over the eastern sector that includes key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites. The international community does not recognize the Israeli annexation and says the fate of the holy city should be resolved through negotiations.

Congress passed the law seeking to give Americans born there the right to have Israel listed as their birthplace in 2002; but Republican and Democratic administrations have refused to enforce it.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed, saying that the federal judiciary has no authority to consider the matter, which they have labeled a political dispute that is best resolved by the other two branches of government without court involvement. The Obama administration, like its Republican and Democratic predecessors, says it does not want to stir up anger in the Arab world by appearing to take a position on the ultimate fate of Jerusalem. The passport restriction applies to people born anywhere in Jerusalem, including the hospital in the western part where Menachem was born in 2002.
The family argues that the State Department has made an exception for US citizens born in Taiwan. You hereby accept The Times of Israel Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and you agree to receive the latest news & offers from The Times of Israel and its partners or ad sponsors.

Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, annexed the area and proclaimed the once-divided city as its capital. The government said the passport policy is in line with longstanding US foreign policy that says the status of Jerusalem should be resolved in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. They also note that the State Department gives people born before Israel’s creation in 1948 the option to say they were born in Palestine.

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