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Reform Jewish Movement Condemns House Passage of Anti-Gay Court-Stripping Bill

Contact: Alexis Rice or Brian Stoller
202.387.2800

Pelavin: The integrity of our legal system depends on the separation of powers and on the people's constitutional right to their day in court.

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2004 - Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement condemning House passage of the Marriage Protection Act, which strips federal courts of their authority to hear cases pertaining to the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal statue governing recognition of same-sex marriage:

The Marriage Protection Act, which the House approved today, sets a dangerous precedent that could come back to haunt everyone. Today the target is same-sex marriage, but this legislation could be used as justification for future Congresses to strip the courts of their ability to review statutes on gun control, reproductive rights, religious liberty, or other controversial areas of law. We count on the federal courts to be isolated from the turbulence of the political atmosphere of the day. What if an earlier Congress had successfully told federal courts that they had no role in de-segregating our nation's schools?

The Marriage Protection Act attacks the very foundation of our legal system, the separation of powers. The federal courts serve as a necessary safeguard to ensure that no legislation oversteps the constitutional bounds defined by the Framers. The Marriage Protection Act obliterates this important protection by anointing Congress both maker and arbiter of the law regarding same-sex relationships. This directly contravenes the Framers' intent and threatens the Constitution itself.

All Americans must have equal access to the levers of justice. Congress should not cut the federal courts out of the process simply because lawmakers fear the potential outcome of judicial review. The integrity of our legal system depends on the separation of powers and on the people's constitutional right to their day in court. Should this dangerous legislation come up for a vote in the Senate, I strongly urge senators to reject it.

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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