US court considers: Jerusalem part of Israel?

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit  on July 24 ruled (PDF) that Israel cannot be listed as the place of birth on US passports for citizens born in Jerusalem. Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (PDF) requires the State Department to list "Jerusalem, Israel," as the birthplace for US citizens born in Jerusalem if the parents request. The appeals court found that § 214 is unconstitutional, basing its decision on the executive power of recognition, affirming that only the executive has the sole power to recognize a state. This decision now requires that section of the law to be reinterpreted, as Congress does not have the power to recognize foreign states. The office of the president has never recognized any one state as having jurisdiction over the city of Jerusalem, and as such, citizens born there cannot include a country name on their passport.

Citizen Menachem Zivotofsky was born in Jerusalem in 2002. His parents asked the State Department to record his place of birth as Jerusalem, Israel, but were told it could only be listed as Jerusalem because the US does not recognize any country as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. His parents filed suit in 2003 based on the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit as a political question. In March 2012 the US Supreme Court ruled that this challenge was not a political question and thus the federal courts do have jurisdiction over the case.

From Jurist, July 25. Used with permission.


  1. Supreme Court to rule on Jerusalem birthplace law

    The US Supreme Court on April 21 granted certiorari in  Zivotofsky v. Kerry. the court will address the constitutionality of a federal statute requiring the Secretary of State, on request, to endorse US passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad of US citizens born in Jerusalem with "Israel" as the place of birth. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the statute unconstitutional on grounds that it "impermissibly infringe[d] on the [p]resident's exercise of the recognition power." (Jurist)