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July 05, 2007

The Jews and the Supreme Court

I can't possibly make as much fun of some Jewish groups as they deserve. An article entitled "Court rulings vex Jewish groups" begins:

Following a string of conservative rulings in the closing weeks of this year's Supreme Court session, some Jewish officials are suggesting that they may be forced to abandon their years-long strategy of relying on the courts to protect liberal gains on a host of issues.
Amazingly, they're thinking of trying to achieve political change through the political process. Who could imagine?

Here's a quiz that my readers will ace:

Q: Which Supreme Court decision is first in the list of cases of the past year that Jewish groups found troubling?

A: Check this out:
Sinensky and others cite four decisions that have especially roiled the community in the year since Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who carefully hewed to the center as the court's swing vote on several hot-button issues:

• The court ruled in April that a ban on late-term abortions did not violate a woman's right to privacy, rolling back in part the gains of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

• In May, the court imposed a tough 180-day limitation on an employee's right to claim pay discrimination.

• Last month, a 5-4 majority of the justices ordered school districts in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., to end voluntary busing programs that sought to integrate schools that had become segregated through demographic trends.

• Also last month, the court ruled that taxpayers have no standing to stop the executive branch from spending federal funds on faith-based programs, a decision that would hamper efforts by Jewish groups to wage legal challenges on such matters.
Yes, the answer is abortion -- partial-birth abortion, to be precise; not, as the article claims, late-term abortion generally. Abortion, that "Jewish issue" of fundamental importance. This is the number one case Jewish groups cared about? Are they totally insane? (Don't answer that.)

It's followed by a sex discrimination case, in which the dissent basically admitted that the statute said what the majority said it did. So the Jewish groups were advocating a policy position at the expense of law.

Which is followed by a case coming close to holding that race discrimination is necessarily unconstitutional. (The Jewish grops opposed that ruling. Since when did race discrimination become a positive good among Jews?)

Finally, the fourth decision at least has something to do with religion, even if only indirectly. I guess I can see how Jewish groups would want to be able to continue bringing taxpayer-standing cases challenging government programs as an establishment of religion, but frankly, it's a strange case to turn into our Alamo. (Although, to be candid, for Jewish groups everything is an Alamo.)

And even with this taxpayer-standing case, one Jewish official admitted that the programs don't actually harm anyone (other than taxpayers):

"What you're asking for is someone who is among the least, the lost, someone with an alcohol addiction, a drug addition, someone who has no job, to come forward," [Michael Lieberman, of the Anti-Defamation League] said. "It's so unlikely that someone falling through the safety net is going to say, 'I need that methadone treatment program but I resent saying a prayer for it.'"
Now, you're probably thinking to yourself: "The Anti-Defamation League? I thought that was a group dedicated to fighting anti-semitism." I think it may have been at some point. Maybe there just isn't enough anti-semitism to go around.