A push for more religious activism on judges


Rabbi David Saperstein is urging the "progressive religious community" to get more involved in the judicial nominations process. The director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism makes his case in the Huffington Post:

The judiciary has a powerful and lasting impact on the issues that the religious community cares about, including but not limited to the preservation of civil liberties and civil rights, protection of the environment, freedom of choice and speech, and freedom from imposed religion. Judges and justices granted lifetime appointments to the Federal Bench have the ability to either safeguard or erode these rights over the many years they serve.

It is far past time for the religious community to join the many progressive organizations that are fighting for a fair and independent judiciary. Sitting out vital debates about judicial nominees jeopardizes the crucial gains we have made and will make in the legislative arena. We need to ensure the appointment of judges who will uphold an expansive interpretation of the law as it applies to our fundamental rights and the separation of church and state.

For this reason, the Reform Jewish Movement decided in 2002 to "oppose a nominee if after consideration of what the nominee has said and written, and his or her record, it believes that a compelling case can be made that the appointment would threaten protection of the most fundamental rights which our Movement supports." This past winter, the Reform Movement added that it would actively support qualified nominees who are attacked or criticized based on "their records or stated views related to the protection of the fundamental rights that our Movement supports" and/or "based on aspects of their personal identities that are irrelevant to their ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the positions to which they are nominated."

Saperstein says in the article that the Reform movement has "recently resumed dissemination of "Rights in Peril: Why the American Jewish Community and Others Cannot Afford to Sit Out the Debate Over Judicial Nominations," a call to action for the Jewish and national religious communities to join us in creating formal processes for considering whether to oppose and support judicial nominees." And he stresses that speaking out on lower court nominations are increasingly important, as the Supreme Court lessens its caseload.

Recommended from JTA