Prof. Eric Freedman Comments on a Supreme Question of Place of Birth: Jerusalem or Israel?

Eric M. Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law

Supreme Court, Israel and the Passport Case
The Jewish Star
By Sergey Kadinsky
August 10, 2011


Overwhelming majorities in Congress have reaffirmed its status as the Israeli capital, but for Americans born in Jerusalem, the line on the passport remains without a country, printed simply as Jerusalem. The omission of Israel’s name is a question now before the United States Supreme Court.

Eight year-old Menachem Zivotofsky is an American citizen born in Jerusalem whose parents Naomi and Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky demanded that his birthplace be listed as “Jerusalem, Israel” instead of its present singular word, “Jerusalem.”

Eric Freedman, a constitutional law professor at Hofstra, argues the exact opposite, predicting defeat for Zivotofsky. “The power to receive ambassadors is the power to recognize a piece of land. Congress can control the funding in foreign policy, but recognition of countries belongs to the president,” Freedman said. “For example, President Nixon’s recognition of Red China was also challenged in court and upheld.”

Freedman took on the president in 2008, successfully arguing before the Supreme Court for a Guantanamo detainee’s right to challenge his detention. Nevertheless, Freedman is not optimistic on Zivotofsky. “The court has sympathy for the executive branch. Alito, Scalia and Roberts all worked for past presidents and the new justice Elena Kagan is a former solicitor general,” Freedman said.

To read the full article, please visit www.thejewishstar.com.

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