Zivotofsky II's Two Visions for Foreign Relations Law

7 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2015 Last revised: 26 Oct 2015

See all articles by Harlan Grant Cohen

Harlan Grant Cohen

Fordham Law School; University of Georgia School of Law; University of Georgia - Dean Rusk International Law Center

Date Written: July 23, 2015


The five opinions in Zivotofsky v. Kerry – four by the Supreme Court’s Republican-nominated Justices – exposed fault-lines over foreign relations law that have remained hidden in many of the Court’s other cases. This short essay, part of an AJIL Unbound Agora on the case, explores the most notable of these fissures – that between Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, and Chief Justice Roberts, who dissented. Their disagreement in this case highlights the two Justices’ very different visions of U.S. foreign relations law and reveals the dynamic that has defined the direction of the Court over the last ten years. The relationship between Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts has been the fulcrum on which the Court’s foreign relations opinions and posture has turned and is likely to turn for some time to come.

Keywords: Zivotofsky v. Kerry, Justice Kennedy, Chief Justice Roberts, Supreme Court, foreign relations, international law, Israel, United States, passport, recognition of states

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Harlan Grant, Zivotofsky II's Two Visions for Foreign Relations Law (July 23, 2015). 109 AJIL Unbound 10 (2015), UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-17, Dean Rusk International Center Research Paper No. 2015-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635202

Harlan Grant Cohen (Contact Author)

Fordham Law School ( email )

150 West 62 Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

Hirsch Hall
Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-5166 (Phone)

University of Georgia - Dean Rusk International Law Center ( email )

100 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602-6018
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics