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U.S. Supreme Court

Win Seems Likely for Obama Administration in Supreme Court Passport Case

Posted Nov 8, 2011 10:01 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The executive branch appears likely to win a passport dispute before the U.S. Supreme Court, though justices differed on whether they should intervene.

The suit filed by the parents of Menachem Zivotofsky seeks to enforce a 2002 federal law allowing an American born in Jerusalem to list his birthplace as Israel. Opposing that bid, the president argues that only he has the power to set passport policy as part of his foreign affairs responsibilities.

According the National Law Journal, “Jerusalem's status as a capital or even as part of Israel has been a touchy point for decades’ worth of presidents, fearful of spoiling the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, who lay claim to at least part of the city.”

Some justices seemed reluctant to intervene, which would give the U.S. government a win, the New York Times reports. Others wanted to rule—in favor of the government. “The justices’ debate was about means rather than ends, as a decision in favor of the executive branch seemed likely whether the court stepped in or abstained,” the newspaper says.

The case is Zivotofsky v. Clinton. The Washington Post and USA Today also have coverage of oral arguments.

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