Monday, November 21, 2005

Union for Reform Judaism Opposes Alito Nomination as Threat to Fundamental Rights

To: National Desk
Contact: Emily Grotta, 914-772-7657 or ESGrotta@urj.org; Alexis Rice, 202-841-2360 or ARice@rac.org, both of Union For Reform Judaism
HOUSTON, Nov. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Representatives of the 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America voted overwhelmingly today to oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court of the United States because it "would threaten protection of the most fundamental rights" that the Reform Movement supports.
"On choice, women's rights, civil rights and the scope of federal power," Alito would "shift the ideological balance of the Supreme Court on matters of core concern to the Reform Movement," according to the resolution adopted by the more than 2,000 voting delegates from more than 500 congregations in all 50 states. The vote came at the closing session of the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial Convention, which met in Houston Nov. 16-20. The Union represents the largest branch of Judaism in North America.
Before the vote, convention delegates heard an argument in favor of the nomination from Jeff Wasserstein, a former clerk for Judge Alito and a self-described "liberal Democrat," and against it from Elliot Mincberg, vice president of the People for the American Way.
"We respect Judge Alito's intelligence, competence, integrity and judicial temperament," said Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism in Washington, DC. "Nevertheless, we are alarmed by the threat to the fundamental freedoms we hold dear if Judge Alito is confirmed. We cannot remain on the sidelines during this crucial debate, one that carries implications for virtually every issue of core concern to our Movement," Saperstein said.
Jordyn Jacobs, a college freshman from San Diego and the Social Action Vice President of NFTY, the Reform Movement's youth program, urged delegates to vote against the nomination. "Our tradition teaches us that we must not be silent," Jacobs said. If Alito is confirmed, she noted, he could be on the court for 35 years, affecting her generation and their children throughout their lives.
Earlier in the convention, delegates voted to oppose the War in Iraq and called for some troop withdrawals to begin after the December 15 elections.
Delegates also voted on resolutions to
-- Denounce the use of torture and demand the US Government enforce laws that make torture illegal
-- Oppose efforts to impose economic sanctions on Israel or on companies doing business with Israel
-- Require that governmental scientific data not be colored by ideology and that appointments to governmental bodies be made on the basis of the appointee's scientific experience
-- Endorse the Millennium Development Goals to end global poverty
-- Support voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia
-- Support the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively
The full text of the resolutions are available at http://biennial.urj.org/highlights/resolutions/ .
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/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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