‘Born in Jerusalem’ Case Divides Justices

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Middle Eastern politics infused the Supreme Court’s arguments Monday over a disputed law that would allow Americans born in Yerushalayim to list their birthplace as Israel on their U.S. passports.

Justice Elena Kagan called Yerushalayim a “tinderbox” at the moment and said the outcome of the case would be watched closely. On the other side, Justice Antonin Scalia said of the law, “If it is within Congress’ power, what difference does it make whether it antagonizes foreign countries?”

Like Kagan, the other liberal justices appeared willing to accept the administration’s argument that changing the wording on passports would damage the American role as a broker of peace and undermine the president’s credibility.

The conservative justices were more open to the argument that the passport language would not change U.S. policy toward Yerushalayim.

A decision in Zivotofsky vs. Kerry, 13-628, is expected by late June.