An Upcoming Supreme Court Case Could Make It Easier for Americans to Keep Shabbat

The Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear the case of Groff v. DeJoy, regarding a postal worker who wishes to avoid Sunday shifts because of his observance of the Christian Sabbath. Michael A. Helfand explains:

Employers’ obligation to accommodate employees’ religious practice derives from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Because the original text of Title VII provided limited guidance in terms of what kind of protections it afforded employees from religious discrimination, Congress subsequently amended Title VII in order to make clear that employers [must] “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s “religious observance or practice” unless, and here is the kicker, providing an accommodation would present an “undue hardship.”

In the similar 1977 case of TWA v. Hardison, the court ruled that any additional cost to an employer would constitute such an undue hardship. Helfand hopes the current court will take the opportunity to reconsider this narrow interpretation:

Among the problems with [the] prevailing standard is that those left most exposed by the court’s stingy interpretation of Title VII have been religious minorities, whose practices often don’t track the prevailing rhythms of the workplace. According to one brief filed before the Supreme Court in 2020, nearly half of Title VII accommodation appeals are filed by religious minorities, even though those minorities only account for 15 percent of the population.

Unsurprisingly, American Jews have been at the forefront of attempts to enhance the protections afforded religious employees in the workplace, as diluting employers’ obligation to accommodate religious practices in the workplace continues to present a significant obstacle to Shabbat observance. Already back in 1977, a broad coalition of Jewish organizations filed amicus briefs before the Supreme Court supporting the plaintiff in Hardison. . . . In subsequent decades, a diverse range of Jewish organizations have supported the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, an ultimately unsuccessful attempt since 1999 to expand the religious-accommodation protections afforded employees in the workplace.

Read more at Forward

More about: American law, Freedom of Religion, Sabbath, Supreme Court

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden