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Supreme Court Delivers Mixed Ruling on Refugee and Muslim Ban, Requires State Funding of Some Church Sponsored Activities, and Upholds Same Sex Marriage Rights (Again)

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Supreme Court Delivers Mixed Ruling on Refugee and Muslim Ban, Requires State Funding of Some Church Sponsored Activities, and Upholds Same Sex Marriage Rights (Again)

June 26, 2017, Washington, DC – The Supreme Court handed down a battery of rulings today as they wrap up the 2016 term before breaking for the summer. The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) expressed alarm at a decision that requires states to fund certain church-sponsored activities with taxpayer funds. NCJW is also deeply concerned regarding today’s Supreme Court ruling reinstating parts of the travel ban ordered by President Donald Trump. CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:

“Today the Supreme Court undermined 200 years of precedent separating religion and state by requiring states to henceforth award taxpayer funds for certain church activities. In Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, the court ordered that Missouri fund the renovation of a church-owned playground. We are particularly concerned that this decision may open the door to public funding of private religious schools, which would both drastically undermine the resources available to public education and grievously breach the wall of separation between religion and state.

“The court’s ruling in the combined cases of Trump v. International Refugee Assistance and Trump v. Hawaii, the justices reinstated part of that the president’s refugee and Muslim ban as it relates to ‘foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.’ This Supreme Court terminology is elastic enough to invite more litigation, and allows the Trump administration to limit refugees from six Muslim-majority nations. The court also granted a review of the ban on its merits in the fall. The ruling falls short of our Jewish and American values of tolerance and welcoming the stranger. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the original rationale for the ban — that of national security — does not appear to have added any urgency to the resolution of this case as far as the Supreme Court is concerned.

“NCJW is pleased that the court upheld the implementation of its decision recognizing same sex marriage by ruling in Pavan v. Smith that Arkansas must put both parents in a same-sex union on the birth certificates of their children. But we are deeply troubled by a different case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, concerning a baker who claims he has the right to discriminate against lesbian and gay persons because their sexual preferences violate his religious beliefs. The case will be heard by the court next fall. It opens the door to assertions that those operating in the public marketplace could essentially discriminate as they see fit. There were those who claimed slavery and segregation were justified by their religious beliefs. Their assertions failed in Congress and in the courts and they should here too.”

These cases underscore that courts matter, and the judges who sit on them are critical to ensuring our fundamental rights and freedoms. NCJW continues to believe that a fair and independent judiciary that keeps faith with constitutional values is vital to maintaining our values — values that are very much at stake in today’s rulings.


The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. More information on Facebook and on Twitter at @NCJW.


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