An Israeli flag flutters in Jerusalem's Old City on April 17, 2014
An Israeli flag flutters in Jerusalem's Old City on April 17, 2014 © Thomas Coex - AFP/File
An Israeli flag flutters in Jerusalem's Old City on April 17, 2014
AFP
Last updated: April 22, 2014

Supreme Court takes up status of Jerusalem

The US Supreme Court Monday decided to hear the case of an American born in Jerusalem, once again taking up the sensitive issue of the status of the contested city.

The justices will hear arguments in the case in the fall before deciding on the constitutionality of a 2002 law that directs the State Department to give Israel as the country of birth in passports of Americans born in Jerusalem.

At the center of the struggle between the Congress and the presidency is Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem in 2002 to two American parents.

His passport says "born in Jerusalem" but his parents want Israel added to the place of birth, putting them at odds with the State Department.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, but neither the United States nor the international community recognizes the city -- holy to three faiths -- as such.

Then president George W. Bush signed the 2002 bill into law, but he added a signed statement condemning it as unacceptable interference in the president's powers to conduct foreign policy.

In March 2012, the top court ruled that the Zivotofsky suit was legally admissible, without pronouncing on the underlying issue.

This time it will decide whether the president alone has the authority to say who Jerusalem belongs to, in the eyes of the United States.

The Obama administration argued at a hearing in November 2011 that to list Israel as the country of birth would be tantamount to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the country.

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