Disingenuous Arguments about Religious Liberty Don’t Contribute to the Abortion Debate

Last month, multiple Jewish organizations, along with a Catholic one, filed a brief with the Supreme Court urging it—on religious-freedom grounds—to strike down Mississippi’s ban on abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. Setting aside arguments about the fitness of the legislation in question, or its constitutionality, Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh argue that the brief’s claims abuse the principle of freedom of religion:

It is important to understand what these groups are not arguing. They are not arguing that, in some instances, courts might be required to grant religious exemptions from abortion laws. Such a claim would be akin to those that religious objectors typically raise. If the Supreme Court allows the Mississippi law to stand, courts would decide future requests for religious accommodations under the normal rules that apply to such cases. That is how the free exercise of religion is protected in American courts.

There is no precedent for doing what these Jewish groups support: invalidating a law as it applies even to non-objectors simply because it could potentially violate someone’s religious liberty. This untenable maximalist position undermines the cause of religious liberty by making it incompatible with the functioning of any government in a pluralistic society.

The pro-choice groups openly argue . . . that the Supreme Court should strike down Mississippi’s law because it is “at odds with the views of” their religious traditions. They also argue that the ban is impermissible because it “fails to account for—and indeed, disrespects” their religious views. This is not a request for a traditional religious accommodation that applies to religious objectors. It is a demand that religious adherents be granted a religious veto to prevent states completely from adopting any policy that conflicts with their faith.

Read more at Jewish Link

More about: Abortion, American Judaism, American law, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy