Appeals court again rejects Jerusalem passport lawsuit

July 24, 2013

A federal appeals court has again dismissed a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s policy of refusing to list Israel as part of the place of birth on U.S. passports for citizens born in Jerursalem.

Acting in a case that has been before the federal courts for a decade and was revived by the Supreme Court last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday that Congress unconstitutionally intruded on presidential and executive branch powers in 2002 when it passed a bill that required such passports to list Israel when Americans so requested.

In a decision authored by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, the court found that the power to recognize foreign governments and their control over specific territory is the exclusive province of the executive branch.

“We are not equipped to second-guess the Executive regarding the foreign policy consequences of” the law, Henderson wrote for the unanimous panel in an opinion posted here. “As the Executive—the ‘sole organ of the nation in its external relations…’ is the one branch of the federal government before us and both the current Executive branch as well as its predecessor believe that [the law] would cause adverse foreign policy consequences (and in fact presented evidence that it had caused foreign policy consequences), that view is conclusive on us.”

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