Jewish cases

J. Noble jfnbl at
Tue Sep 12 01:55:37 PDT 2006

(N.D.Ill., 1981), the court (J. Shadur) denied the defendant's motion 
to recuse based on his religious beliefs, and former membership in 
the American Jewish Congress, because "the issues before the court 
center on the free exercise of Orthodox Jewish beliefs." According to 
the Court:

As for American Jewish Congress, like most Jewish organizations it 
does not have a particular religious affiliation of its own, either 
Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. Its members are drawn from every 
shade of Jewish belief or, in many cases, from every shade of lack of 
Jewish belief. IHSA and its counsel disclose a complete lack of 
understanding of such and other aspects of Judaism....
*   *   *
"Jewish community" is typically a misleading term for something that 
does not exist as an entity. ... Necessarily implicit in IHSA's 
affidavit and motion is the assumption that all Jews are alike, or 
all members of Jewish organizations are alike, or both. Such 
assumptions are just as wrong and just as demeaning as saying that 
all Blacks look alike or are alike, or all Orientals look alike or 
are alike. To put it in more formal terms, IHSA's affidavit and 
motion suffer from what logicians refer to as the fallacy of the 
undistributed middle." ...

On appeal, at 683 F.2d 1030 (7th Cir., 1982) (J. Posner), the Court 
vacated the district court's ruling that the Illinois High School 
Association's rule barring hats on basketball players violated the 
First Amendment as applied to Jewish players wearing yarmulkes 
fastened with bobby pins because the safety hazard was to slight to 
justify the burden on free exercise. On appeal, Law and Economics 
meets religious liberty: The rule "does not actually prohibit a 
religious observance but merely makes it more costly by forcing the 
observant to give up some government benefit.... Free exercise of 
religion does not mean costless exercise of religion, but the state 
may not make the exercise of religion unreasonably costly." The Court 
remanded with instructions to retain jurisdiction to provide players 
an opportunity to propose a more secure headcovering that would not 
fall off during play: "If the plaintiffs can totally allay the 
state's safety concern at zero, or practically zero, cost to them, 
they must do so. Otherwise the state's concern, even if relatively 
slight, will be a compelling interest in relation to the (non)burden 
on the plaintiffs' religious freedom."

John Noble

At 11:17 PM -0400 9/11/06, Paul Finkelman wrote:
>Somewhat related to "Jewish Champions of the First Amendment" I am doing
>a short piece on Supreme Court (and other cases) related to Jews as
>Jews.  Some of the Sunday closing cases are examples.  A few cases that
>come to mind are Crown Kosher, Goldman, Kiryas Joel.   There is also an
>early Pa. case invovling Jury service (not at my desk, and don't have
>the caption handy). I would appreciate any suggested cases. Off list is
>Paul Finkelman
>Paul Finkelman
>President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law
>      and Public Policy
>Albany Law School
>80 New Scotland Avenue
>Albany, New York   12208-3494
>pfink at
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