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November 03, 2005

Alito and the Jews

Well, we can all exhale now that we're starting to hear what the Jews think about Alito. There's an article in the Washington Jewish Week detailing the miscellaneous ruminations on the perennial issue: Is it good or bad for the Jews?

Actually, that used to be the issue for Jews. Now, for some Jews at least, the question is: Is it good or bad for abortion rights? I kid you not.

I'll spare you from having to read the article. The orthodox are not taking a position on the nomination, though a spokesman said that Alito is "clearly someone who is sensitive to religious minorities." And an orthodox former Alito clerk speaks highly of the judge:

Title VII, the applicable civil rights law, "does not permit an employer to manipulate job requirements for the purpose of putting an employee to the 'cruel choice' between religion and employment," Alito wrote.

Such insights are typical of Alito, his former law clerk, Jeffrey Wasserstein, told JTA.

"He is a Catholic, but his sensitivity to nonmajority religions was quite interesting to watch, not what one would expect from someone being tarred by the press as extraordinarily conservative," said Wasserstein, an observant Jew who served with Alito from 1997-98 and now is a health care attorney.
Let's not pick nits here, but Catholicism is also a nonmajority religion in the United States.

Reform Jews probably will take a position, and you know what that will be:
In the opinion in the creche cases, "he was on the opposite side of much of the Jewish community," said Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center.

* * * * *
Pelavin suggested the Reform movement also would have a role to play ‹ probably not one particularly sympathetic to Alito.

"It's not just about competence, it's about the court shifting on fundamental issues, including reproductive rights and religious liberty," he said.
And the National Council of Jewish Women:
The National Council of Jewish Women, which usually takes the lead in abortion-related announcements, was the first Jewish group to formally oppose Alito.

"Judge Alito has ruled to severely restrict a woman's constitutional right to abortion and against civil rights protections for both women and minorities," NCJW said in a statement Monday.
Yeah, Alito's going to bring back back-alley abortions and segregated lunch counters. Did Teddy Kennedy write their press release (or did they write his)? Don't answer that.

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