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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Legal Fight against Public Prayer Dates Back to Childhood Carols

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

The need for a firm barrier between church and state is as clear now for Susan Galloway as it was in grade school, when she was expected to sing carols at the Christmas show.

Galloway grew up in McHenry, Ill., a town northwest of Chicago with few other Jews, and the carols sung in school made ample mention of Jesus. Galloway refused to take part.

“It was against everything I was taught,” Galloway told JTA.

As an adult living in the Rochester, N.Y., suburb of Greece, Galloway encountered a similar problem. Each town board meeting would open with a Christian prayer that mentioned Jesus. She and a friend, Linda Stephens, both became uncomfortable.

Now the effort by Galloway and Stephens to stop it has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments were held last week in a case that could substantially redefine the scope of acceptable prayers in public venues across the country.

“They’re asking us to bow our heads, they’re asking us to join them in the Lord’s Prayer, they’re asking us to stand — all of this is in the name of Jesus Christ,” Galloway, 51, said in an interview last week. “This one guy went on about the resurrection. We have preachers who stand there with their hands in the air.”

Galloway’s day in court is the culmination of six years of legal battles that began after she started attending board meetings regularly in a bid to save the local public access television channel. Initially she and Stephens appealed to the board supervisor, but they were relegated to subordinates who told them to get over it.

“They basically told us we could leave or put up with it,” Galloway said. “I was offended.”

They sought backing from outside groups, but many turned them away. Especially hurtful for Galloway was the deaf ear from the Rochester Board of Rabbis.

“I presented the issue, and I hoped other rabbis would see it that way,” said Rabbi Simeon Kolko, a childhood friend of Galloway who agreed to make the case on her behalf. “There was not a willingness.”

Rabbi Larry Kotok, the board president, did not respond to a request for comment.

At first, Galloway said, she and Stephens felt ostracized; then it got worse. Threatening letters came in, some signed “666,” the Christian signifier of the devil. Stephens’ home was vandalized. Galloway believes hers was spared because she lives on a busy street.

But Galloway refused to be cowed — a product, she said, of an upbringing that stressed believing in the best of others. “I wanted to believe if you have a conversation with people and you explain to them a point of view and they understand something, there’s a way to work the issue out,” she said. “But they did not want to talk or negotiate or anything.”

With the assistance of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Galloway and Stephens pressed the issue. At first the town seemed responsive, opening up the sessions to prayers of other faiths four times in 2008. But the sides couldn’t settle and the matter went to the courts.

The fact that the Supreme Court is taking the case is not necessarily good news for Galloway. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled on her behalf, but when the Supreme Court considers appeals from lower courts it mostly intends to reverse the decision.

Still, Galloway has accrued the support — from Jewish and non-Jewish groups — she felt was missing in the case’s early days. An array of major organizations — including the Reform movement, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee — have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on her behalf.

“It sends a message to people who are coming that maybe they don’t belong, maybe they will be treated differently,” said Sammie Moshenberg, the Washington director for the NCJW. “It creates a climate that makes folks feel like they’re not necessarily part of the political process.”

The concern going into the oral hearing was that the court would substantially expand the definition of permitted prayer in a 1983 case, Marsh v. Chambers. That decision, based on a case related to prayers in the Nebraska Legislature, has been widely interpreted as allowing nonsectarian prayer in legislative bodies.

Bills to ‘Balance the Power’ of the Court Doomed – for Now

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Two Knesset Members, one from the Likud and one from the Jewish Home party, are proposing bills to check the powers of the Supreme Court, which has moved Israel towards a judicial state in the past two decades.

The elitist leftist and anti-religious media already have begun fighting the proposals, which are doomed from the start, but the legislative initiative is an important step towards the day when a wider popular demand will require a restoration to some kind of normalcy.

The new bills would change the “clubhouse” system of electing Supreme Court judges and its president and make it easier for the Knesset to circumvent Supreme Court decisions that arbitrarily strike down Knesset laws.

Polls have shown a strong trend towards mistrust of the judicial system, but it is doubtful that nationalists can overcome their image, sometimes deserved and sometimes undeserved, of trying to be just as authoritarian as the left-wing infrastructure of the Israeli establishment.

The judicial “revolution” began in Israel 18 years ago with the Supreme Court presidency of Aharon Barak, whose brilliant legal mind was located mainly on the left side of his head.

The Supreme Court’s function in Israel couldn’t be any further from its counterpart in the United States, where the court handles approximately 100 cases a year. In Israel the number is around 12,000, and that is not a typo.

The U.S. Supreme Court considers a case only when there is a question of interpretation of the law and if someone stands to be harmed by it.

Barak expanded the area of judicial authority to include virtually every social, religious and political issue, regardless of whether an individual could be harmed. He exploited the Knesset’s “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” as an excuse to examine every appeal, putting the court in a position of actively shaping the law instead of simply solving disputes.

He wrote in an article in 1992, “There are no areas in life which are outside of law,” a sign of a grab of power that never would have been tolerated had it been expressed by a nationalist or a religious Jew.

Barak’s revolution can been seen by his interference in the Knesset law that once exempted yeshiva students from serving in the IDF. The Supreme Court in the 1970s decided not to rule on a petition again the exemption, stating it was a political question. A similar case reached the court in the 1981, when it decided that the solution to the “public issue” did not rest with the judiciary.

Along came Barak in 1986, when he ruled the  issue was within the court’s jurisdiction.

He used the Basic Law as a vehicle to equate a “Jewish state” with a “democratic state,” with a decided emphasis on “democracy” at the expense of Judaism.

Barak anointed himself as a Torah sage and rabbi shortly after the Basic Law was passed and stated in a speech at Haifa University, “The basic values of Judaism are the basic values of the state. I mean the values of love of man, the sanctity of life, social justice, doing what is good and just, protecting human dignity, the rule of law over the legislator and the like, values which Judaism bequeathed to the whole world. Reference to those values is on their universal level of abstraction, which suits Israel’s democratic character, thus one should not identify the values of the state of Israel as a Jewish state with the traditional Jewish civil law. It should not be forgotten that in Israel there is a considerable non-Jewish minority.”

The court, under Barak, struck down Knesset laws based on his interpretation of the Basic Law, which by his wishful thinking often contradicted Jewish Law that previously had served as a cornerstone of decisions.

For example, he decided that Rabbinical Courts must apply the doctrine of joint matrimonial property based on his outlook that a disputes  from a divorce are a result of an agreement between a husband and a wife and not a result of the act of marriage.

Backed by a jubilant media under the dominance of the Yediot Acharonot newspaper and the misnamed Voice of Israel radio network, the court has consistently ruled in favor of Peace Now and Palestinian Authority petitions against Jews, putting the burden of evidence on Jewish ownership of land in Judea and Samaria on Jews even if there is no  proof of ownership by Arabs.

Landmark Court Ruling to Flood Tel Aviv with African Immigrants

Monday, September 16th, 2013

A unanimous and landmark Supreme Court ruling on Monday struck down a Knesset amendment to a law and declared that detaining African infiltrators  for three years without trial violates their human rights.

The effect of the decision is that nearly 2,000 illegal Africans will be able to leave their Negev prison in 90 days and move freely in Israel, most likely to southern Tel Aviv – unless the government decides to deport them.

Within the 90-day period, the government can determine if the illegal immigrants are entitled to be recognized as those seeking asylum or simply left their home countries to seek a better standard of living, in which case they can be sent home.

The amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law violates what is known is Israel as the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty, a concept that the High Court has exploited for several years to allow it to dictate policies that often are the opposite from what the Knesset had legislated.

The unanimity in the 9-0 ruling, including  new Court President Asher Grunis who is viewed as being far away from the left-wing “bleeding heart” camp, underlined the conclusion that the amendment unquestionably violates human rights, despite the problems is poses to the country, as several justices noted.

However, Justice Grunis indicated that a shorter detention period would not be questioned by the court.

Justice Edna Arbel, who has sided dozens of times with “activists” and often against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, admitted that the decision “will not be easy” for the public to swallow.

She also concede that the decision will be a difficult blow for south Tel Aviv, whose residents have suffered a higher crime rate along with the flood of approximately 50,000 African infiltrators into the relatively poor neighborhood.

“Their cries are in our hearts; their pain is our pain,” she wrote, but Likud Knesset Member and Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev reacted, “There are judges in Jerusalem, but the pain is in south Tel Aviv.” She added, “The High Court has sentenced the residents of south Tel Aviv to living in fear and has given infiltration a green light.”

But she agreed that the Knesset’s solution of simply throwing people into detention facilities for three years, without charges, is not a solution.

Even veteran MK Reuven Rivlin, former Speaker of the Knesset and who has often defended the legislature against High Court intervention, admitted that the Knesset has to be more careful in its legislation.

Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar said that Monday’s ruling makes it more difficult for Israel to deal with illegal infiltration.

To a large extent, the government is to blame for the situation. It ignored years of warnings that the daily flood of illegal immigrants was destroying Jewish life in Arad and Dimona, in the northern Negev, where the immigrants descended from further south.

It was only after tens of thousands of infiltrators inundated Tel Aviv that the government began to move, literally locking the gates at the border after the illegals had crossed into the country.

In virtually every democratic country, foreigners are not allowed to  enter without valid documents unless they are seeking asylum.

Egypt often solved the problem by simply killing them. Israel simply turned a blind eye until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the previous government, ordered that a fence be built along the Egyptian-Israeli border. The result has been a near-zero rate of infiltration. Simultaneously, the government decided to do something with those already in the country and deported thousands who were not validated as seekers of asylum, mainly from Sudan.

Leftists, many of whom back any effort that will reduce the Jewish majority and the influence of the growing  religious minority in the country, challenged many attempted deportations.

They conducted a “Save the Children” campaign, playing on emotional heartstrings by protesting against deporting children who, at the country’s expense, already were being educated in Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the ruling, “Alongside honoring the decision of the High Court of Justice, I, in cooperation with the Interior Minister and the Attorney General, intend to find ways that are in keeping with the decision and which will allow the implementation of our determined policy which has blocked illegal migration and has already repatriated thousands of illegal migrants.”

Lapid Tells Haredim ‘Go Work’ as Child Subsidy Cuts Go into Effect

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

On Tuesday, the severe cuts in government assistance to large families is going into effect, representing a new peak in Finance Minister Yauir Lapid’s war against the Haredim. What began as an election slogan, touting the need for an equal share in the national burden, is now policy, and as so many things political go, this one is hurting the weakest members of society.

Here’s the list of changes in the amounts paid to families—it is divided into children before and after 2003.

Families with children born before 2003 will receive $39 a month—down from $49—for the first child; $39 a month—down from $74—for the second child; $48 a month—down from $82—for the third child; $94 a month—down from $129—for the fourth child; and $99 a month—down from $109—for the fifth child and on.

The effect on a family of 10, which would be almost certainly religious (or Arab) is a 20% drop, from $988.00 to $814.00.

Israel’s social security administration objected to these cuts, arguing that they expect them to send some 35 thousand new children below the poverty line. In fact, they said the new cuts, sold as part of the “equal burden” package, will actually introduce a huge, new gap between rich and poor, as the percentage of poor children will rise from 4 to 40 percent.

In his Facebook message (today’s politician’s alternative to press conferences, where they might ask you embarrassing questions), Lapid said he was fulfilling one of his key promises to his voters. He also offered the following factoid, possibly something he read in a Maggie Thatcher interview:

“For years upon years it’s been proven that child allowances don’t get people out of poverty, they only make poverty permanent. Only one thing allows families exit the cycle of poverty – and that’s working.”

According to a 2011 report on poverty issued by the Israeli social security administration, 39.3% of Israeli families have been freed from the cycle of poverty due to receiving a variety of subsidies, including child allowances and income tax breaks, and the figure includes 15.1% of the children in Israel. The poverty line before government subsidies are paid out stands at $39.3%, and with the old subsidies dropped to 19.9%, which is still the highest poverty level among developed countries, and highest among all the OECD member countries…

For Haredi families, this severe cut in income comes coupled with a severe curtailing of funding for yeshivas and kolelim—by 30 percent this coming year, and by 60 percent the following year.

Four Haredi families are planning to sue the government in the Supreme Court over the cuts, which they say were made haphazardly and in a manner that does not befit proper legislation. A similar appeal was rejected a month ago by Justice Noam Solberg, on the ground that it was issued too early on in the legislative process. He urged the plaintiffs to come back once the bill becomes a law. Well, today it did.

Minister Lapid received a lot of praise when, during a duel with MKs from the Torah Judaism party, he said from the podium, in response to an accusation that his office was starving children:

“We will not allow any child in the State of Israel to go hungry. It’s our duty to make sure no child in Israel will be hungry, and we will honor it. But I want to remind [you], the institution responsible for caring for children is called their parents. When you bring a child into this world, [you] are the primary person responsible for it. Bringing a child into the world is a heavy responsibility, and so you should bring children into the world not based on the assumption that other people would care for them, but rather based on the assumption that it’s your obligation to take care of your own children.”

But that was many months ago. Today it has become clear that Minister Lapid—continuing his late father’s legacy of Haredi and religious hatred—has declared war on religious Jews in Israel. So far it’s been a three-pronged attack, hitting the issues of draft, child rearing in large families, and the education budget. Granted, in every one of these areas the Haredi public could do a lot to improve its relationship with the state and to create more goodwill between religious and secular in Israel. But to hit them with these three massive jabs all at once is not an act of repair but of destruction.


Shas to Sue Gov’t because Haredi City not a National Priority

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The Shas Sephardi said Monday it will file a complaint with the Supreme Court, charging the government with discrimination for removing the Haredi city of Beitar Illit in eastern, Gush Etzion, from its list of national priority communities that receive special benefits.

The government on Sunday placed 91 communties in Judea and Samaria on the list, most of them in areas near the Lebanese and Egyptian borders, and removed Beitar Illit from the list. Also taken off the list were Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat, which are predominantly non-Haredi cities, and Harish, near the north-central Mediterranean Coast.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri screamed “foul” and accused Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid of tilting the list to protect communities where they are popular.

Although politics is blatant every time the government sneezes, Shas’ accusations are more for making political hay with its constituents than for making any logic.

One of the Jewish Home’s strongholds is the heavily Anglo-populated community of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, but it was removed from the list, a move that is not going to win applause for the Jewish Home party. Significantly the government placed on the list three former outposts that were legalized shortly before the last elections.

The new list favors communities that have not enjoyed substantial growth, as opposed to Beitar Illit, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat and Harish, all of which have grown handsomely thanks to government financial props.

It is an old story of getting used to being on the dole for so long that one forgets how to get along without it.

The Haredi community is learning, painfully because there is no other way, that forever does not last for eternity.

Real state entrepreneur and contractor Ya’akov Hershkop, born in the United States, cried to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot’s website, “This government is simply cruel. There are no other words to describe what is happening here. Our public is being ‘attacked’ on a daily basis, and they are taking away the milk and bread we have left.

“We will have to take matters into our own hands and seek the support of the Diaspora Jews, who will stand by us. I have no choice but embark – together with the community leaders – on a fund-raising trip abroad. Maybe our salvation will come from there.” Yitzhak Ravitz, chairman of Degel HaTorah’s Beitar Illit chapter and the son of the late Haredi Knesset Member and deputy minister Avraham Ravitz, told the newspaper, “For every apartment here there are a hundred people who want to buy it, and suffocating this city is a foolish act. It is a stupid and irresponsible decision as far as the settlement enterprise is concerned. It is also malicious.”

One question the newspaper did not ask him: If there is such a big demand to live in Beitar Illit, why does it have to be on the national priority list?

‘Islamic Rights in Jerusalem’ Why No ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ Decision (VIDEO)

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

A federal court released its decision regarding whether it is permissible for the United States to refuse to enter “Jerusalem, Israel” on the passport of an American born in Jerusalem on Tuesday, July 23.  The result was not unexpected.  The court decided that a portion of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which congress enacted in order to allow Israel to appear alongside Jerusalem on such a passport, was an unconstitutional law.  The basis for that decision was that in enacting that law, congress had impermissibly intruded upon the exclusive power of the Executive branch to conduct diplomatic relations with foreign entities.

But the surprise, and the anger – for those who disagree with the decision – should be directed at the Executive branch for its long–held position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel.  And we learn in this Opinion, what is driving this long-held position. It is a fear of anger and violence if the U.S. does something to “undervalue” “Islamic rights in Jerusalem.”

Got that? The U.S. is afraid of undervaluing “Islamic rights in Jerusalem.” Perhaps the decision makers in the U.S. Department of State and all the Secretaries of State never had the opportunity to view the very important interview of Arabic Studies professor and scholar Mordechai Kedar gave to an Al Jazeera anchor.  See that interview at the end of this article.

Congress sought to correct what it viewed as an incorrect decision by the Executive branch. But the judiciary branch could not allow that.

BACKGROUND

Menachem Zivotofsky was born in Jerusalem to American parents.  Shortly after his birth, Zivotofsky’s parents applied for a passport for him.  In the application, Zivotofsky’s mother listed his birthplace as Jerusalem, Israel.

But the U.S. State Department issued the child’s passport listing only Jerusalem – no country was listed – as his place of birth.

That year, 2002, Zivotofsky’s parents filed a lawsuit against the State Department on their son’s behalf, seeking to have a passport issued to their son which would list, as requested in the original application, Jerusalem, Israel, as the child’s birthplace.

This case has traveled up and down the federal court system, stopping in some courts more than once.  It even reached the U.S. Supreme Court where a subsidiary issue was heard two years ago, before being sent back down the court system for further development.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared unconstitutional a portion of the 2002 Foreign Relations Authorization Act which would permit a passport to be issued listing as the place of birth Jerusalem, Israel for  Zivotofsky and others in his position.

This is the relevant portion of the FRAA which the court declared unconstitutional:

(d) RECORD OF PLACE OF BIRTH AS ISRAEL FOR PASSPORT PURPOSES. For purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.

What the court did was – not surprisingly, even if one disagrees with the result – rule that congress exceeded its powers by passing legislation which, the court found, wrongly interferes with matters over which it does not have ultimate authority. That exclusive authority instead rests with the Executive branch. The power to recognize the sovereignty of another country and to determine foreign policy, is one of the powers which the U.S. government’s separation of powers doctrine grants to the Executive branch.

What is significant about this case is not that the Court of Appeals has ruled that Jerusalem is not part of Israel.

The more interesting question is why the Executive branch is so set against even something so small as to allow a child’s passport to state that when a child was born in Jerusalem, he was also born in the country of Israel.

The D.C. court noted that it has always been the position of the Executive branch to remain neutral on the question of who has sovereignty over Jerusalem.  It quotes from the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual which was in effect in 2002, when Menachem Zivotofsky was born and when his parents sought to have his passport list Jerusalem, Israel as his birthplace.  The FAM explicitly states that, “for an applicant born in Jerusalem: ‘Do not write Israel or Jordan’ on his passport.”  It also states that “Israel ‘[d]oes not include Jerusalem.’”

Court Orders Tel Aviv to Enforce Law Banning Business on Shabbat

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The Supreme Court has ordered Tel Aviv to enforce the law that prohibits stores from operating on the Sabbath. It overruled a February ruling by a lower court, which accepted the city’s claim that it carried out its responsibility by fining business owners without a need to force them to close.

The three-judge panel, including Court President Asher Grunis, ruled that under the “current legal management, the municipality in effect allows violating the law.” He added that there is concern that the city prefers to profit more from sales on Shabbat than it can collect from fining businesses violating the law.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/court-orders-tel-aviv-to-enforce-law-banning-business-on-shabbat/2013/06/25/

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