The Supreme Court ruled Monday that presidents have the power to choose not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on passports, despite laws passed by Congress that seek to compel that recognition.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the 6-3 opinion that the president has the “exclusive power to grant formal recognition to a foreign sovereign.” While the scope of that decision could extend outside this case, the decision responds directly to a suit by an American citizen born in Jerusalem who wanted to list his country of birth as Israel.
The executive branch views Jerusalem as an international city, a designation meant to stay neutral on a major issue in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. So when Congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 2002, which included a section that mandated recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, then-President George W. Bush issued a signing statement that said his administation viewed the act as advisory because it violates the president’s foreign relations authority.
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