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Reform Jewish Movement Congratulates Justice-designate Sonia Sotomayor

Saperstein: “We wish Justice-designate Sotomayor wisdom and strength as she takes on the awesome responsibility of pursuing justice on our nation’s highest court.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Jessica Weiser
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 6th, 2009– In response to the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the 111th United States Supreme Court Justice, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations encompass nearly 1.5 million Reform Jews, I congratulate Justice-designate Sonia Sotomayor on her confirmation.Justice-designate Sotomayor’s ascension, as the first Latina and third female Supreme Court Justice, brings the Supreme Court one step closer to reflecting the rich diversity of our nation.

The Supreme Court has a powerful and lasting impact on the issues that Reform Jews care about, including ensuring freedom of religion and speech, preserving civil liberties and civil rights, protecting the environment, defending reproductive health and rights, and guaranteeing due process in our legal system. The seating of any new Supreme Court Justice to a lifetime position will directly influence federal law in these areas for decades.We hope, and have every reason to believe, that Justice-designate Sotomayor will preserve the essential rights and freedoms that the Supreme Court has afforded the American people over time.

The Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis did not take a formal position on Justice-designate Sotomayor’s confirmation. Still, the Reform Jewish Movement was an active participant in the process of considering the nominee’s record. We lifted up the issue of religious freedom by inviting 30 church/state scholars and advocates to the Religious Action Center, the Reform Movement’s Washington office, to review Judge Sotomayor’s record on the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment and co-sponsored a related briefing for Senate staff. We also hosted a conference call for religious advocates to discuss the implications of this nomination for the faith community. And we encouraged Reform Jews from across the country to get involved by submitting questions to the Senate Judiciary Committee through our online tool, AskJudgeSotomayor.com, and by writing their Senators to express their views in advance of the confirmation vote.

Jewish tradition teaches us, “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof” or “Justice, justice, shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 17:20). This command directs us not only to behave justly but to help build systems of justice that allow for equal access and protection for all. With this directive in mind, we wish Justice-designate Sotomayor wisdom and strength as she takes on the awesome responsibility of pursuing justice on our nation’s highest court.

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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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