US Supreme Court to Decide Status of Jerusalem

October 6, 2014

2 min read

The US Supreme Court will decide the fate on whether to recognize Jerusalem as being a part of Israel as part of several new cases to be taken up during its new term, which opens on Monday.

The nine judges on the high court will hear the case of an American born in Jerusalem who wishes to list his birthplace as Israel on his passport.

The case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, highlights a major dispute between US congress and the president with complex Middle Eastern politics serving as a background.

The case, which is before the Supreme Court for a second time, will call into question the issue of checks and balances – Can the president be the sole authority of US foreign policy or can Congress pass laws overriding the president’s policies?
The first challenge to the passport rule was brought to US courts by parents of an American boy, Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem right after the law was passed. Had he been born in Tel Aviv, the State Department would issue a passport listing Israel as place of birth.


The US does not recognize Jerusalem as belonging under any nation’s sovereignty, saying that the status of Jerusalem should be determined via peace agreements. In 2002, Congress passed a law that says American’s born in Jerusalem should be able to list Israel as their birthplace.

The Obama administration maintains that the law would be viewed as a US endorsement of Israeli control over Jerusalem. The executive branch says that the Congressional law interferes with the president’s right to recognize a foreign country.

Among some of the other cases that will come before the Supreme Court this term are those revolving around housing discrimination, religious discrimination, Facebook threats, and prison beards.

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