Parents Can’t Require ‘Israel’ Birth on U.S. Passport

Parents can’t require that American children born in Jerusalem have “Israel” designated as their place of birth on their passports, a federal appeals court ruled.

A 2002 law obligating the U.S. State Department to list Israel as the birthplace on passports of Jerusalem-born Americans if requested by parents or guardians is unconstitutional, according the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

The law “impermissibly infringes on the president’s exercise of the recognition power reposing exclusively in him under the Constitution,” Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote for a three-judge panel.

The case was brought by the parents of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, who sued in 2003 to have Israel listed on his passport, citing the law passed the previous year.

The Obama administration contended that Congress overreached when it passed the law, intruding on the president’s exclusive power to recognize nations and their boundaries. The State Department has a policy of not taking a position on the political status of Jerusalem.

A trial judge and a federal appeals court previously ruled that questions about Jerusalem’s status are political issues that can’t be reviewed by the courts.

In March 2012, the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, said that courts are capable of determining whether the Zivotofskys have a valid claim, setting the stage for today’s ruling.

The decision perpetuates a “misguided policy” and the Zivotofskys will once again ask the Supreme Court to take up the case, Nathan Lewin, an attorney for the Zivotofskys, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, 07-5347, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).

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