The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the president alone has the power to recognize foreign nations, and it struck down as unconstitutional a congressional attempt to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on passports.
Pat Dollard via WaPo: President Obama and President George W. Bush had said the 2002 passport law embraces the interpretation that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, something the executive branch has long held should be settled by the parties in the Middle East. They refused to let the State Department honor such requests.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said Congress has a role in managing the nation’s foreign affairs but not in recognizing foreign nations and governments. “Recognition is a topic on which the nation must speak with one voice,” wrote Kennedy. “That voice must be the President’s.”
The vote to strike down the law was 6 to 3, with the court’s four liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — joining Kennedy’s opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas said the law was unconstitutional, but he did not endorse Kennedy’s reasoning.
Justice Antonin Scalia made his displeasure with the decision more pronounced by reading portions of his dissent from the bench.