web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Two Court Decisions Of Note

Two federal court decisions of major significance to our community were handed down on Monday. In one case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not bar localities from beginning legislative sessions (such as city council meetings) with plainly religious prayer, even when clergy members presenting the prayers are invariably Christian and the prayers invoked are Christian in nature.

In the second case, a Manhattan federal district judge dismissed a complaint filed by Palestinians (including several American citizens) residing in the West bank against Ateret Cohanim, the One Israel Fund (to be distinguished from the New Israel Fund), and three other organizations that support Israeli settlers – the Hebron Fund, the Central Fund of Israel and the Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. All were sued under federal terrorism statutes over their providing financial support to settlers and settlements (which the plaintiffs claimed were terrorist groups).

In the 5-4 ruling in the first case, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion:

Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government…. Legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of “God save the United States and this honorable Court” at the opening of this Court’s sessions….

As to the lack of participation by non-Christian clergy, Justice Kennedy noted there was no claim that any effort was made to exclude anyone. Rather, he said, there was simply no outreach to non-Christians.

Of particular interest to us is the friend-of- the-court brief submitted by the noted constitutional lawyer Nathan Lewin in support of allowing the opening prayers. The brief cited a 1963 responsum of Rav Moshe Feinstein regarding Christian prayer, as well as the opinion expressed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe when the Supreme Court invalidated the New York State Regents prayer in 1962.

Significantly, in his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito cited and relied on Mr. Lewin’s presentation.

As Mr. Lewin notes in the brief, “Contrary to common misconception, Jewish Law does not condemn Christian prayer.” Indeed, when filing the brief he had said, “The Supreme Court must be informed this time that America’s Jewish community is not unanimous in objecting to Christian prayer or in the suppression of pleas for Divine blessings at governmental sessions.”

We couldn’t agree more.

In the second case, Mr. Lewin represented the above-named organizations that had been sued because of their support for settlements. It is a somewhat involved story, but essentially consists of the following:

The federal Anti-terrorism Act provides that “[a]ny national of the United States injured…by reason of an act of international terrorism…may sue…in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains.” The Alien Tort Statute provides that “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Other laws prohibit giving financial support to terrorists.

In the context of these laws, the plaintiffs charged that “The Settlers” are Israeli citizens who live in the settlements and perpetrated attacks on Palestinian residents in the territories which are intended to “coerce, intimidate and influence the Israeli government and public and thereby ultimately bring the ultimate expulsion of the Palestinian residents from Occupied Palestine.”

The defendant organizations are identified as “purported charities” that collect donations totaling “millions of dollars” that they wire “directly to the Settlers and the Illegal Settlements.” The funds are used to “build and maintain the Illegal Settlements, illegally take land in Occupied Palestine, to support the attacks by the Settlers on Palestinians living in Occupied Palestine, and to support the terrorist acts of the Settlers against Palestinians and other persons in Occupied Palestine.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Two Court Decisions Of Note”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Rivlin delivers  Yom Ha'Atzmaut greetings to Jews in the Diaspora.
President Rivlin’s Independence Day Message Thanks Jews in the Diaspora
Latest Indepth Stories
YS

Though an ardent Zionist, I’m neither blind nor naïve and have ambivalence for each of the 3 dates

Author back in his Hollywood days

An Israeli actor pal asked me why I knew nothing about Judaism-The question hit like a thunderbolt

Iran’s aggressively expanding posture across the region. (Google map; author annotation.)

Iran is like the film “The Matrix,” where people live in an illusory world that seems entirely real.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.

Rav Lichtenstein did not learn Tanaim, Amoraim, Rishonim and Achronim, rather he learned with them

How can NIF claim they don’t support BDS when they try to repeal laws forbidding boycotts of Israel?

“Rav Lichtenstein’s vision and inspiration served to guide the development of Tzohar.”

As Holocaust survivors decline rapidly attacks on the veracity of the Holocaust rapidly escalates

The Constitution created history’s most powerful legislature & inherent foreign policy power battle

The S-300 poses a major problem; Israel will have to get creative as to if, when & where it strikes

“The resentment towards us (Jews/Israelis) was really intense. They clearly hate Zionism & Zionists”

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

More Articles from Editorial Board

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

He went on to say that the United States would defend Israel if it were “attacked by any state.”

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

If nothing really changes in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, is Israel obligated to provide them and its other adversaries launching pads for attacks?

The United States placed enormous pressure on Israel to relinquish its gains, which Prime Minister Ben-Gurion did with great reluctance.

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/two-court-decisions-of-note/2014/05/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: