The U.S. Supreme Court has backed Barack Obama on striking down the Jerusalem Passport Law allowing Americans who are born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their official birthplace on the U.S. passports. This ruling recognizes the executive powers that the President Barack Obama enjoys in recognizing foreign nations and with that the dispute of passport designations.
The Supreme Court has made a 6-3 ruling, making it a big victory for President Obama, especially in times when Israel and the United States do not have strong relations and when the peace in the region depends mostly on American politics.
After the six days war in 1967, Israel has claimed Jerusalem as the state’s capital, thus making such American politics that have strained relations and created high tensions with the Jewish people. The United States have maintained their neutral position in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the land of Jerusalem, carefully not taking sides.
However, a law was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002 in an effort to show good will to create a strong diplomatic relation with Israel, as well as the long standing court battle for now 12 year old Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem and his parents sought for him to have Israel as his birthplace state. People born in Jerusalem only had Jerusalem listed in their passports, with no country included.
The law was passed in time of the Bush administration, and both Bush and Obama administrations showed no will to enforce it. The Supreme Court justices have agreed with the decision to not implement the Congress’s law.
The decision comes in a great time when Republicans criticize Barack Obama for bypassing the Congress and making decisions that exceed his authority. This is a great endorsement of the presidential powers.
According to Reuters, Obama has stated that they are happy the law was not enforced, because it would have cause an irreversible damage to America’s ability to influence the region’s peace process and undermine the American politics of not recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel.
A source for Reuters says that the Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy, has written in the court ruling that the U.S. Congress has powers in foreign policy, however the power on recognizing foreign governments remains only with the President, making the passport disputes to be encroached to that exclusive power. He stated “Congress cannot command the President to contradict an earlier recognition determination in the issuance of passports.” Kennedy is a conservative that almost always has the key vote.
The ruling has ended the 12 year legal battle of the Zivotofsky family and has made it clear that the President has the exclusive power with his executive role to recognize foreign governments and, thus, create and set the nation’s foreign policy and negotiate this kind of disputes.