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Nov 8, 2011

Zivotovsky Takes on US State Department, And Old Age, In Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments in the case of Menachem Zivotovsky suing the United States State Department to force them to write on passports of US citizens born in Jerusalem "Jerusalem, Israel" as per congressional decisions against the executive power of the president in deciding foreign policy.

The argument is centered largely around whether such a declaration using the name "Israel" is purely passport statute, with no other influence, or whether it extends beyond passports into foreign affairs. Arguments were heard yesterday, and the Court is expected to give their decision in the summer. I don't know why it takes so long, but that's how the court works.

USA Today describes a rare moment of levity during the arguments in the Court:
A related exchange between Kagan and Lewin produced a rare moment of levity in the courtroom.
Kagan told Lewin: "I think you would have a better argument if this statute said if you were born in Jerusalem you can pick anything you want in your passport. You can pick Jerusalem, you can pick Israel, or you can pick Palestine. But the statute in fact doesn't say that. It says you can pick Israel."
Lewin responded: "The statute does say that the individual passport holder … if he's born before 1948, he can say Palestine."
That led Kagan, born in 1960 and 51 years old, to say, "Well, you have to be very old to say Palestine."
To which Ginsburg, born in 1933 and age 78, interjected, "Not all that old." The justices and spectators erupted in laughter.

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