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NY Court Decision Protects Vital Civil Liberties

Pelavin: “The development of technology … always presents new opportunities and new challenges. What must remain constant are cherished, constitutionally protected freedoms.”

Contact: Kate Bigam
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington DC May 12, 2009 — In response to the New York State Court of Appeals decision today in NY v. Weaver, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are gratified by today’s decision in NY v. Weaver affirming the importance of protecting the right to privacy.  In particular, the court found that police can not undertake global positioning satellite surveillance of individuals without probable cause and a valid court order.

The development of technology, such as the GPS devices at issue here, always presents new opportunities and new challenges. What must remain constant are cherished, constitutionally protected freedoms.  For this reason, the Union for Reform Judaism was pleased to join an amicus brief in the case coordinated by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

It is difficult, but essential, that the law find the appropriate balance between security and liberty.  We are guided in our views on these issues by Jewish law and tradition, which affirms importance of privacy rights, but also acknowledges that preventing crime may require discovery of confidential information, while making this exception extremely limited. In this age of rapid technological advances, it is essential that no individual’s privacy is violated without clear legal standards being met.

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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 1,800 Reform rabbis.



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