12 November, 2013
On Circumcision, Scalia Surprisesby Gabe Kahn
Longest-serving justice and interlocutors agree on most issues at YU conversation between former classmates.
A hero to many in the Orthodox community on matters relating to the separation of church and state, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments on circumcision at a Yeshiva University forum last Wednesday night may have come as an unpleasant surprise to those who think the justice’s opinions flow from his own religious beliefs.
How would he have ruled, he was asked by attorney Nathan Lewin, had a 2011 attempt to criminalize circumcision in San Francisco succeeded and eventually made its way to the high court?
“If the practice is something that society does not want, and it’s not intended to discriminate against Jews in particular, I think the law is perfectly valid,” he said to a crowd somewhat mystified by how incongruous the remark seemed in the context of Scalia’s other church-state comments.
[Not just a practice "that society does not want", infant circumcision flies in the face of international conventions on human and children's rights, and international and national law.] ...
Scalia and Lewin did not agree on the legality of a ban on circumcision, however. ...
Shuli Karkowski, a graduate of Harvard Law in attendance, said she was impressed by Scalia’s honesty, especially considering that not all of his opinions were popular with the audience.
“Even when I don’t agree with Justice Scalia, I think he takes both a consistent and principled approach,” she said. “I’m surprised that he said how he would rule in the bris case. Most justices are disinclined to speak on any matter that could possibly come before the court.”