High Court Backs President in Use of Jerusalem on U.S. Passports

by Jess Bravin

June 8, 2015

The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Congress to require that some U.S. passports reflect Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, giving wide berth to the president’s constitutional authority to recognize foreign nations.

By a 6-3 vote, the court on Monday ruled Congress overstepped its bounds with a law allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to identify Israel as their birthplace on passports. The law ran contrary to the State Department’s long-standing practice of using Jerusalem in such cases.

Although passports of Americans born overseas typically list the relevant country as the birthplace, the U.S. sometimes inscribes a city name when sovereignty is in dispute, as with Jerusalem. The official U.S. position is that the city’s ultimate status should be negotiated between Israel, which has claimed Jerusalem as its capital since 1948, and the Palestinians, whose authorities aspire to make it the capital of their future state.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which lobbied for the 2002 law, expressed disappointment. “But we are more disappointed by the persistent policy of the United States government–carried out by successive presidents–to treat the capital city of Israel with less respect than that accorded to capital cities of virtually every other nation,” the group’s spokesman, Nathan Diament, said.

To read the rest of this article in the Wall Street Journal, click here.