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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

After decades on the books will religious freedom law be overturned?

By Mark A. Kellner




A realistic assessment from pols and constitutional scholars


JewishWorldReview.com |

W ASHINGTON— Despite calls to repeal the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commonly known as RFRA, the bill's original sponsors in Congress remain opposed to changing the landmark religious liberty bill. The 21-year-old statute was the linchpin of the Supreme Court decision involving privately held Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

According to Matthew Harakal, spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senator "helped write RFRA and enact it into law, so no, he does not think it should be narrowed or repealed."

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee also stands by the bill, spokeswoman Beth Breeding said: "Chairman Goodlatte was an original cosponsor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He continues to support this law."

On the other hand, in a statement to the Deseret News, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he is willing to consider changing RFRA, though not mentioning it by name: "The fact that five Supreme Court justices in the Hobby Lobby decision have again found that somehow corporate rights trump individual rights is something that all Americans should be concerned with. I know that many Senators are considering the best fix to this erroneous decision and I look forward to reviewing any legislation to respond to the Supreme Court's decision to grant corporations these new rights," he said.

At least one other Democrat — Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — hinted at taking on RFRA's freedom-of-conscience protections when she reacted to the Hobby Lobby ruling: "Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women's access to health care, I will," Murray said in a statement. "In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the (Obama) Administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck," she said.

Reaction to even a veiled suggestion of changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was quick and strong:

"Changing RFRA because some disagree with one particular application of the law would set a dark precedent by undermining the fundamental principle of religious freedom for all, even for those whose religious beliefs may be unpopular at the moment," said the signers of a joint letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Rep. Harry Reid (D-Nevada); House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). "Congress has never passed legislation with the specific purpose of reducing Americans' religious freedom. It should not consider doing so now."

Some opponents — including a legal scholar and secularist lobby group — of the Supreme Court's June 30 ruling are lobbying to repeal RFRA, which passed both houses with near-unanimity and was quickly endorsed by then-President Bill Clinton. Congress reauthorized the measure in 2000.


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RFRA was key to the Hobby Lobby high-court decision, where a 5-4 majority ruled religious liberty protections applied to a closely held corporation's owners. The Supreme Court weighed whether a federal mandate of insurance coverage for contraceptives, which may induce abortions — drugs objected to by the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two privately held corporations, on religious grounds — passed RFRA's requirement that the government use the "least restrive means" to achieve its objective.

Justice Samuel A. Alito said the Department of Health and Human Services mandate failed that test, since the government made provisions for faith-based nonprofits to be exempted from the requirement, with HHS providing (and, presumably, paying for) the disputed items — a compromise that was not offered to Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood Specialties.

After the ruling, critics pounced: RFRA was "never intended to restore anything, was overreaching, and would tip (the scales of justice) in favor of religious believers over all others," declared Marci A. Hamilton, a church-state law specialist and a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of New York's Yeshiva University.

"Finally, the public is starting to see the essential goal for RFRA is either to discriminate against women (being) able to obtain emergency contraception after rape, for women to obtain all forms of contraception, or to block (equal rights for) gays and same-sex marriage," she said in a telephone interview.

Hamilton, who was a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when one of the cases that triggered RFRA's passage, Employment Division v. Smith, was decided by the high court, said the 1993 law is "an invitation to very extreme discriminatory behavior. The time is right to repeal it."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist and agnostic activist group, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on July 2, highlighting its opposition to the Hobby Lobby decision and urging the overturning of RFRA.

"None of our civil rights, established after decades and decades of struggle and education, will be safe until RFRA is overturned," Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, said in a statement. Gaylor termed the Supreme Court decision "outrageous and untenable."

Signers of the pro-RFRA letter included Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as leaders of the Assemblies of God (USA); the Church of God in Christ; the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America; the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; the Rabbinical Council of America; the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and the Wesleyan Church.



One legal scholar who backs RFRA, Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia Law School, told the Deseret News via email that repeal or narrowing of RFRA's provisions "would be a huge step backwards" from the principles enshrined in the 1993 law.

"The anti-RFRA hysteria is totally overblown, because the case was decided on the premise that female employees would get free contraception, without Hobby Lobby having to pay for it," Laycock said. "The (Supreme) Court said the impact on those employees would be 'precisely zero.' And that is right, except for the delay while the agencies go through the rulemaking process to extend the non-profit solution to for-profits."

He added, "The left-right coalition that enacted it agreed on the principle, knowing that they would disagree about specific applications."

Georgetown University emeritus law professor Ira C. Lupu, via email, said "RFRA will never be repealed. Who is going to stand up and vote against religious freedom in the abstract?"

However, Lupu, who said he testified against RFRA at a 1992 House subcommittee hearing because he believed the bill "over-restored" religious liberty, asserted RFRA has been trimmed "by various narrow interpretations" in lower federal courts.

"The contraceptive mandate cases (the whole set of them) represent the first and only socially important and major set of victories for religious exemptions under RFRA," Lupu said. "I suspect that the lower federal courts will find ways to read Hobby Lobby narrowly ... and will return to limiting the scope of RFRA with respect to federal law."

Lupu said "it's not necessary to repeal it, because in the future it will do little good and little harm. RFRA is frequently a charade, and I expect (and predict) it will go back to being one."

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