US Supreme Court to Hear Jerusalem Status Case

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case regarding the status of Jerusalem.  The case hinges on a U.S. law passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush according to which the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem should be recorded as “Jerusalem, Israel.”  This law was passed in order to force the U.S. State Department to officially recognize, on this official U.S. document, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  Longstanding U.S. practice has been and reamains to record the place of birth simply as “Jerusalem.”

When President Bush signed the bill containing this requirement into law, he issued a signing statement declaring the provision unconstitutional – arguing that it unduly impinged on the Executive branch’s foreign policy prerogative.  Cases brought against the State Department in lower courts have upheld this position, with courts deciding that the status of Jerusalem is nonjusticiable (see here and here for examples).  Now the Supreme Court is set to rule in the matter, in what represents a rather extraordinary case of private U.S. citizens seeking to use the courts to force the President’s hand in a delicate foreign policy matter.