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October 8, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 8, 2004
 

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PAGE 12 :! HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS OCTOBER By Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTON (JTA)--The U.S. Supreme Court may tackle questions regarding the legal rights of religious prisoners this session, as well as whether the public display of the Ten Commandments violates the separation of church and state. In what may be the last year of the current makeup of the court, legal experts at several American Jewish organiza- tions are expecting the court to again debate the balance between allowing free expres- sion of religion and preventing governmental establishment of religion. When lower courts have had contradictory rulings on religious issues, it increases the chances that the issues will be heard by the high court. "The circuits are all over the place," said Jeffrey Si- nensky, general counsel for the American Jewish Com- mittee. "When you have a break in the case, it's more likely the court will take it." The most-watched case in the Jewish community challenges the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and In- stitutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The bill, passed in 2000, requires a compelling gov- ernmental interest to pre- vent religious groups from using land or to prevent free practice of religion by the imprisoned. It is a more closely tailored version of the Religious Free- dom Restoration Act, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1997, claiming Congress did not have the authority to enact such a law infringing on states' rights. Jewish groups were in- strumental in lobbying for Congress to pass both acts. The Religious Land Use law "is a shield against religious discrimination," said Michael Lieberman, general counsel for the Anti-Defamation League. "It will be i~portant for the court to uphold it." The 407-644-2211 ATTENTION! Park Ave. Ey~ear Pat~ts Your records arc ~w t The Guber Optical and Eyeglass Boutique I Includes Eye Exam I Any Prescription lenses i Includes a 3 month supply of W/eye exam I contacts & eyeglass exam,' I Includes daily wear soft lenses,or purchase of frames I | Extra charge for bifocals, | upgraded lenses or torics. I Present Coupon. | i MOSt lenses in stock. Exp. 10/31104 l EXp. 10/31104 II Cast R6tUr s to Orlaad0[ case before the court centers around Ira Madison, a Virginia prison inmate who was denied the right to be served kosher food. Lower courts questioned the sincerity of Madison's claim that he was a member of the "Hebrew Israelites" and suggested that by grant- ing special provisions to the religious, government was encouraging prisoners to become religious. Jewish groups counter, however, that religious practices should be tolerated unless there is an express, compelling governmental interest in denying them. Al'so being watched this year are four cases regarding the public display of reli- gious symbols, including the Ten Commandments, any of which could be taken to the high court "There's not much new in the way of law to be made in these cases," said Marc Stern, counsel for the American Jewish Congress. "These are symbolic cases." The court has a strong record against stand-alone images of religion in the public square, such as the Ten Commandments or nativity scenes. One of the best-known cases the court could hear this year revolves around Roy Moore, the former chief jus- tice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who was ousted last year because he would not remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from his courthouse. However, his case focuses on the legality of his removal from the bench Other cases the court could decide to hear focus on the express display of the Ten Commandments. It is un- clear whether the court will take the Moore case, or other cases, because the justices are divided on the issue. While Jewish groups have closely watched the Ten Com- mandments cases, concerned about the display of religious items and the separation of church and state, they have not focused much energy on the issue. Like the question of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, some Jewish legal authorities have determined the erection of Judeo-Christian symbols is not a grave offense. "If it comes up, we will be there urging the unconsti- tutionality of many or all of these symbols," Stern said. "Is it our druthers about what we should be fighting about in 2004? Not really " Orthodox groups would likely oppose striking down displays of the Ten Commandments if it meant public displays of menorahs and other Jewish symbols would also be forbid- den, say'officials at Orthodox groups. Jewish groups are also watching to see if the court takes any additional cases on the restitution of money and property of Holocaust survivors. The court ruled in June that foreign governments can be sued in U.S. courts over looted art, stolen prop- erty and war crimes from the Holocaust era. Some analysts are hoping the courtthis seasonwill hear cases on the constitutionality of some of President Bush's faith-based initiatives, but others believe it may take more time for the challenges to reach the high court. Specifically, some Jewish groups believe the "programs challenge the separation of church and state because of the potential for proselytiz- ing at government-funded religious social service pro- grams, and because these programs could discriminate against the hiring of people of other faiths. Much of the court's work this year could be mired in the politics of the day. It is also significant that the court is expected to see a change in justices by the end of the term. The nine members of the court have served together for 10 years, a stretch not seen since the 1820s, and several aging justices have reportedly been mulling retirement. Many court ana- lysts were surprised when no justice retired at the end of the 2003 session. With vacancies come the opportunity for the next president to choose justices who might tip the balance of the court in either direction. Thecourthasoftensided,by narrow margins, against the majority Jewish matters of church It found the use of for private or parochial theuseof instructional such schools. But it has drawn a the sand. It found to be unconstitutional, It also slowly the social supporting some tyl~s' firmative acti nalizing administration's broadly unfettered power in terrorism. "This court has than receptive we've brought," Sil said. "We're looking tices that would look closer eye toward the concerns we have the been inter added litical sr court, man3 Jewish groups rights organizations made were based one or two members, rather whole panel Any changes on the could affect rulings on; rang, decided in recent, row majorities. See "Court" on By Henry Benjamin SYDNEY, Australia (JTA)--Two alleged Mossad spies, jailed in New Zealand in July, have been released from prison and deported. Eli Cara and Uri Keiman were freed after serving two months of six- month sentences for fraudulently attempting to obtain a New Zealand passport They were released early for good behavior Cara and Kelman were released from Mt. Eden prison just before dawn last Wednesday and turned over to waiting New Zealand im- migration officials They were then sent home to Israel. The case has heightened diplomatic tensions between Israel and New Zealand, with New Zealand's prime minis- ter, Helen Clark, imposing visa restrictions on visiting Israeli diplomats and ban- ning l~ommunication with Israel's honorary consul. New Zealand has further demanded an apology from Israel for the flap involving the two men, who Clark has described as "intelligence agents." The men have ap- pealed their convictions Clark was slated to address New Zealanders last Wednes- day on the case. enjoyed in the past. has to be done lomatic channels and not commen dialo eign ministe media the dispute be resolved until the government ex and apologized. Following the of the men, New Jewry experienced mitic attacks never seen in the tory. In one in a Jewish cemeterY, Members of the land government solidarity meetings OrnaSagiv, Israel's acting ing the attacks. il ambassador to Australia and "The Jewish TM New Zealand, told JTA from will more than her office in Canberra: "Is- return to the fil rael deeply regrets the cur- lationship Israel had~ ~.~~ rent state of the relationship enjoyed with Ne~ ~ Zea between our two countries, said Israel's horora1"l Th8 Hilarious We will do all we can to sul, David Zwartz, v C616bratio. of restore it to the high level also president of the and warm relationship we Zealand Jewish eou'I 'The, Change! Scene Around Continued from page 11 - 11 & S.iUlply Again the wife stays quiet, but grips the steeringwhe I tightly and slowly increases the speed to 55 mph. ,T .e~ a i[~ r He pushes his luck saying, "I want the house." ,She takes the car up to60 m ph. "I want the car too," he says. ~ ~ ~~. -r~nm" ~ She increases the speed to 65 mph. " " tS And, he continues, I want the bank accoun , TICICET : 4"07.514.Zlqq OP~NDO r.~Cl~:NC GIRL ' NIG/ff OUT ( ,m~ I0+) call for ~osalal Group Rat~ Groq~ of IS+ rail 4,oT.61rlr.lq51 credit cards and the boat." The car slowly starts veering towards a massive bridge. This makes him a bit nervous so he asks her, there anything you want?" The wife at last replies in a q I've got everything I need." "Oh really?" he inquires. "So what have you got?" Just before they slam into the wall at 65 mph, to him and smiles, "I've got the airbag."