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March 27, 2012 2:26 pm

Federal Courts Receive Green Light to decide on ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ Passport Issue

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A U.S. passport. Credit: PD.

An 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court judgment Monday stipulated that federal courts can determine the constitutionality of Jerusalem-born Americans listing “Israel” as their birthplace on U.S. passports, overturning a lower court ruling that precluded the judicial branch’s control over such decisions.

After the State Department refused to issue Jerusalem-born Menachem Zivotofsky a passport stating he is from Israel, citing a 2002 U.S. law, Zivotofsky’s parents sued the government. Zivotofsky’s passport lists only “Jerusalem” as his birthplace.

Federal courts “are fully capable of determining” whether the 2002 law “may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the executive by the [U.S.] Constitution,” said Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion Monday.

The Supreme Court, however, did not make a final decision on 2002 law’s actual constitutionality, instead sending the case back down to lower courts for rehearing on that matter.

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