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Zivotofsky II’s Two Visions for Foreign Relations Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Harlan Grant Cohen*
Affiliation:
University of Georgia School of Law
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Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry (Zivotofsky II), was the open disagreement between Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts. What Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, holding that the President has exclusive power to recognize states and governments and that Congress cannot constitutionally impinge on that power by requiring the President to list Israel in the passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem, means for future foreign relations law cases is something of a puzzle. Solving it requires understanding the two competing visions at the case’s center and the fluctuating relationship between the two Justices who hold them.

Type
Agora: Reflections on Zivotofsky v. Kerry
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 2015

References

1 Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 135 S.Ct. 2076 (2015) [hereinafter Zivotofsky II].

2 Medellín v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491 (2008).

3 Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 133 S.Ct. 1659 (2013).

4 Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 132 S.Ct. 1421 (2012).

5 Bond v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 2077 (2014).

6 BG Grp. PLC v. Republic of Arg., 134 S.Ct. 1198 (2014).

7 Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492 (2012).

8 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557(2006).

9 Boumediene v. Bush, 128 S.Ct. 2229 (2008).

10 Id. at 2278-2293 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

11 Kiobel, 133 S. Ct. at 1659.

12 Id. at 1669 (Kennedy, J., concurring).

13 Cohen, Harlan Grant, Formalism and Distrust: Foreign Affairs Law in the Roberts Court, 83 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 380 (2015)Google Scholar.

14 Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 132 S.Ct. 1421 (2012).

15 Medellín, 552 U.S. at 529–30.

16 Morrison v. Nat’l Austl. Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247, 255 (2010).

17 Kiobel, 133 S.Ct. at 1664.

18 Bond, 134 S. Ct. at 2091.

19 Boumediene, 128 S.Ct. at 2276-2277.

20 Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466, 485–88 (2004) (Kennedy, J., concurring).

21 United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 278 (1990).

22 Id. at 278 (Kennedy, J., concurring) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 75 (1957) (Harlan, J., concurring)).

23 Boumediene, 128 S.Ct. at 2293 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

24 Arizona, 132 S.Ct. at 2492.

25 Kiobel, 133 S.Ct. at 1659 (Kennedy, J., concurring).

26 Zivotofsky II, 135 S.Ct. at 2085-86.

27 Id. at 8.

28 Id. at 9

29 Id. at 18.

30 See infra note 52-54 and accompanying text.

31 United States v. Curtiss-Wright Exp. Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936).

32 United States v. Belmont, 301 U.S. 324 (1937).

33 See Bradley, Curtis A., Historical Gloss, the Recognition Power, and Judicial Review, 109 Ajil Unbound 2 (2015)Google Scholar.

34 Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2249.

35 Zivotofsky II, 135 S.Ct. at 2091.

36 Id. at 2102 (Thomas, J., concurring) (internal citation omitted).

37 Id. at 2113 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

38 Id. at 2114 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

39 Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 635 (1952) (Jackson, J. concurring).

40 Zivotofsky II, 138 S.Ct. at 2113.

41 Id. at 2095 (quoting Youngstown, 343 U. S., at 637–638 (Jackson, J., concurring)).

42 Id. at 2113 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting)

43 See Cohen, supra note 13, at 422-23.

44 Id. at 418.

45 Zivotofsky II, 138 S.Ct. at 2113 (Roberts, C.J., dissenting).

46 Zivotofsky II, 132 S.Ct. at 2085.

47 Id. (quoting 141 Cong. Rec. 28967 (1995) (letter to Robert Dole, Majority Leader, (June 20, 1995)).

48 Arizona, 132 S.Ct. at 2498 (relying on brief from former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright).

49 Kiobel, 133 S.Ct. at 1659 (Kennedy, J. concurring).

50 Zivotofsky II, 132 S.Ct. at 2109 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

51 Sitaraman, Ganesh & Wuerth, Ingrid, The Normalization of Foreign Relations Law, 128 Harv. L. Rev. 1897 (2015)Google Scholar.

52 Zivotofsky II, 132 S.Ct. at 2099.

53 Id. at 2089 (quoting Brief for Respondent at 18, 16).

54 Id.

55 Cohen, supra note 13, at 441 n.426 and passim .

56 Zivotofsky II, 132 S.Ct. at 2096 (internal citation omitted). One might wonder whether Congressional conflicts with the Executive then in the news, like Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address Congress or Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran, were on the majority’s mind when they considered whether Congress needed to be reined in.

57 Commitment to a substantive outcome, in that case, granting Guantanamo detainees access to habeas review, might explain the majority’s decision to join Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Boumediene.

58 Notably, Chief Justice Roberts in dissent cites Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. 170 (1804), a case suggesting that the President is required to abide by congressional limits on war-making.

59 Goldsmith, Jack, Why Zivotofsky is a Significant Victory for the Executive Branch, Lawfare, (June 8, 2015 Google Scholar, 3:44 PM).

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