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To reverse the effect of this decision, Solarz took the lead in drafting a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” It restored the old constitutional rule as a matter of federal law. The bill was adopted unanimously by both Houses of Congress in 1993 – after Solarz had been redistricted out of his seat – but it was held unconstitutional as applicable to the states in a sharply divided 6-to-3 ruling by the Supreme Court. The law still controls the federal government, however, as a unanimous Supreme Court held a few years ago.
Solarz asked me to reserve a seat for him in the courtroom for the oral argument of the case in which the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was challenged. When we left the courtroom and it looked as if most of the justices would rule against the law, he shook his head in disbelief. “These questions,” he said, “were never seriously debated in the Congress. We thought protection of religious practice was fundamental.”
Solarz was dealt cruel blows in political infighting. His Congressional district – in which he enjoyed enormous popularity – was cold-bloodedly carved up in 1992 and he was left to run a futile race in an overwhelmingly Hispanic district. His drive for government service remained strong, however. On the very day that one of Bill Clinton’s many girlfriends publicly revealed her relationship with the then-presidential candidate, Solarz – by then a former congressman who had won an international reputation – announced his support of Clinton.
Solarz thought he was entitled to some loyalty after Clinton was elected. He knew more world leaders personally than probably any other leading Democrat, and he had his eye on either the UN ambassadorship or becoming ambassador to India. Because the press had aired a phony story concerning Solarz’s efforts to get a U.S. visa for someone who was suspected of being a Hong Kong Mafioso, the Clinton White House withdrew Solarz’s ambassadorial nomination. He would have been a phenomenal ambassador, given his personal, political, scholarly, and rhetorical skills.
Rosenblum’s book on Rabbi Sherer quotes a letter from Solarz to Sherer in which the congressman wrote: “There is nothing more important to me than saving Jewish lives.” His record of accomplishment proved that he not only saved Jewish lives but substantially enhanced Jewish life.
Nathan Lewin is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.
About the Author: Nathan Lewin is a Washington, D.C. lawyer who has argued numerous cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and teaches a seminar in Supreme Court litigation at Columbia Law School.
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But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.
We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .
Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.
The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?
The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.
There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”
Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.
Is Woodstock still leading the world to destruction?
In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”
The inauguration of an American president has, since 1937, always begun with an invocation by a clergyman
The late Israeli Supreme Court judge Menachem Elon, was a pioneer of Jewish and Israeli law.
On Tuesday, February 28, it was widely reported that the basketball team of Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy had “forfeited” its place in the semi-finals of the tournament conducted by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) because it would not play on Friday night and Saturday. But a headline in Friday’s New York Times read: “In Reversal, a Jewish School Gets to Play.”
On August 9, 2001, Ahlam Tamimi, a member of Hamas, drove a suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, where the bomber blew himself up, killing 15 people including Judy Greenbaum, an American citizen from New Jersey.
Editor’s Note: On July 30, the firm of Lewin & Lewin, LLP, filed in the Supreme Court its brief in Zivotofsky v. Clinton, No. 10-699, on which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in early November. The constitutional issue in the case is whether Congress had the authority to enact a law in 2002 that directs the Secretary of State to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to record their place of birth in their passports as “Israel.” Because the State Department has consistently refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem as being in Israel, the government has refused to implement the 2002 law, claiming it violates the President’s constitutional authority to “recognize foreign sovereigns.” This is the Introduction to the Zivotofsky brief written by Nathan Lewin, followed by a Summary of Argument.
Congress has never seen a better friend of the observant Jewish community than Stephen Solarz, who died of esophageal cancer on the 22nd of Kislev. Yonoson Rosenblum’s recently published biography of Rabbi Moshe Sherer describes Solarz as an “invaluable ally” for many Agudath Israel projects and there are 20 references to Solarz in the book’s index.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/stephen-solarz-the-jewish-constituents-best-friend/2010/12/08/
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