U.S. Supreme Court will hear appeal on Jerusalem passport

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear the appeal of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem whose parents want Israel listed as his country of birth on his passport.

The court agreed Monday to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky and his parents, Ari and Naomi. A three-judge panel of the appeals court had ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in the case, which was brought under a 2002 law passed shortly before Menachem was born that allows Americans born in Jerusalem to list the city as in “Israel.”

President Bush signed the law but reserved the right to ignore it. Presidents traditionally have resisted efforts to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli, saying that such recognition would pre-empt Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

State Department officials refused to list Menachem as being born in Israel when his parents, who were both born in America and are U.S. citizens, appeared at the U.S. Embassy in Israel to obtain a passport for their son.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in 2007 threw out the case, saying the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter because resolving the “claim on the merits would necessarily require the court to decide the political status of Jerusalem. The case law makes clear that the Constitution commits that decision to the executive branch.” The case then went to the appeals court.