Orthodox Union Urges Supreme Court to Uphold 2002 Law Allowing Notation of “Israel” as Birthplace on Passports

Posted on November 3, 2014 In Press Releases

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the 2002 law passed by the U.S. Congress, which ordered the State Department to allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to record on their passports that Israel is their place of birth.

The case in question, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, concerns Menachem Zivotofsky, the son of two American citizens residing in Jerusalem, who was born in Jerusalem and thus entitled to a U.S. passport. In 1995, Congress passed legislation saying the U.S. should recognize a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Shortly before Menachem’s birth in 2002, lawmakers passed new provisions urging the president to take steps to move the embassy to Jerusalem and allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to have their place of birth listed as Israel on their passports. Zivotofsky sued the State Department to implement this law.

Since the original filing of the lawsuit, the case has revolved around the question of whether the President or Congress has the power to recognize foreign nations and the constitutionality of the 2002 law.

The Orthodox Union, together with other leading Orthodox Jewish organizations, filed a “Friend of the Court” brief, authored by noted attorney Nathan Lewin, in support of the Zivotofsky family.

Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Executive Director for Public Policy, said, “The Orthodox Union has long been a leading advocate for the principle that the holy city of Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. This fact has been recognized again and again by the U.S. Congress, which enacted laws to that effect. The practice of the State Department—and indirectly, the Executive Branch—to refuse compliance with the law is wrong and ought to be overturned by the Supreme Court.”

The full text of the amicus brief can be read here.