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Balance of powers: questions linger in Zivotofsky v. Clinton case

Who controls a foreign policy issue, the President or Congress?

This case, regarding whether an American citizen may have “Jerusalem, Israel” listed on his passport for place of birth had reached the highest level of law. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts explained the recent majority opinion in Zivotofsky v. Clinton (docket 10-699) case, according to a breakdown of the decision by SCOTUS blog. In the explanation, Roberts remarked that the Zivotofsky family is relying upon a specific right granted in a law passed by Congress. It seems the Justices believe that a granted right rests on the judiciary’s authority to decide whether or not that statute is even valid. Thus, Roberts wrote that judges are required to decide “whether the statute is constitutional.”

Roberts’ opinion for the majority also stated that it means a decision must be made on whether the statute “…impermissibly intrudes upon presidential powers under the Constitution.” Because if it does, then the law must be struck down and the Zivotofsky’s case must be dismissed. The opinion continues to state that if it does not, then Hillary Clinton and the State Department may be ordered by the court to issue the requested passport in the form the family wants, which would list their son, born in West Jerusalem, as being from the state of Israel.

An update on the amicus brief found at the lawfare project, filed by the organization states that on Monday, March 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court reached its decision in the Zivotofsky v. Clinton “Jerusalem passport” case. “The Court held that the political question doctrine does not bar judicial review of the petitioner’s claim, vacating the lower court’s judgment (Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) and remanding the case to be decided on its merits,” as it is reported at thelawfareproject.com.