Pelavin: Today’s House adoption of the so-called “Pledge Protection Act” is a shameful effort to strip our federal courts of their ability to uphold the rights of all Americans.
Washington DC July 19, 2006 - In response to today’s House passage of the so-called “Pledge Protection Act,” Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today’s House adoption of the so-called “Pledge Protection Act” is a shameful effort to strip our federal courts of their ability to uphold the rights of all Americans. By removing the jurisdiction of federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from cases involving the Pledge, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent: threatening religious liberty, compromising the vital system of checks and balances upon which our government was founded, and granting Congress the authority to strip the courts’ jurisdiction on any issue it wishes. Today, the issue was the Pledge of Allegiance, but tomorrow it could be reproductive rights, civil rights, or any other fundamental concern.
While Americans of all religious backgrounds, and of none, hold differing views about the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, this legislation goes far beyond that controversial issue. Not only is this a blatant attack on the very foundation of our legal system, but it also undermines the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment - effectively slamming the court house door to, for example, students whose religious teachings lead them to exercise their right to remain silent during recitation of the Pledge.
As Jews, we understand the importance of protecting the rights of religious minorities. Unfortunately, the so-called “Pledge Protection Act” undermines the basic freedoms guaranteed to us in our Constitution. We urge the Senate not to adopt this pernicious legislation.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.