OU: Sotomayor ‘very encouraging’ on religious liberty; NJDC likes nominee (CORRECTED)


The Orthodox Union has taken an early look at Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sonia Sotomayor opinions on religous liberty issues and finds them "very encouraging." Here’s one example:

Flamer v. City of White Plains (1993). This case involved a suit by a rabbi who had sought permission to display a menorah in a city park, but was denied permission in light of a city council resolution barring fixed outdoor displays of religious or political symbols in parks. The rabbi’s suit challenged the resolution as unconstitutional. Judge Sotomayor (then on the district court) agreed and struck down the resolution as a content-based regulation of speech that discriminated against religious speech.

Sotomayor, said the O.U., has "also recognized the importance, under the Establishment Clause, of protecting religion from state interference." For example:

Hankins v. Lyght (2006). In this case, a 70 year-old Methodist minister brought an age discrimination claim against the Methodist Church after he was fired pursuant to the church’s mandatory retirement rules. Judge Sotomayor dissented from the panel majority’s decision to send the case back to the district court for further analysis under two different statutes. Instead, she took the position that the federal age discrimination in employment statute simply did not apply in this context, because applying it would entail undue intrusion into religious matters. She wrote: “Federal court entanglement in matters as fundamental as a religious institution’s selection or dismissal of its spiritual leaders risks an unconstitutional ‘trespass on the most spiritually intimate grounds of a religious community’s existence.” Given those concerns, she concluded that the federal statute was best read “not [to] apply to employment suits brought against religious institutions by their spiritual leaders.”

To read the full O.U. survey, go here. Also weighing in on the pick is the National Jewish Democratic Council, which praises Obama’s decision to "have the Supreme Court reflect America’s rich and diverse population, by selecting the first Hispanic justice." Read the full NJDC statement after the jump: [[READMORE]]

Ira N. Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), released the following statement:

NJDC welcomes President Barack Obama’s selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. With the selection of Sotomayor, Obama has shown sound judgment and profound respect for our nation’s highest court by selecting an individual who has strong credentials, is highly regarded, and is committed to our constitutional values, rights, and liberties.

We are also proud of Obama’s commitment to have the Supreme Court reflect America’s rich and diverse population, by selecting the first Hispanic justice. More importantly, the President’s nominee has the intellectual capacity and real world experience to be a world class justice. 

We applaud this selection and expect the nomination of Sotomayor to receive Senate confirmation in a timely manner.

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