Appeals Court Denies Emergency Stay in Milah Case

NEW YORK -

A three-member panel of judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down a request for an emergency stay blocking implementation of an unprecedented regulation of bris milah. In a two-sentence ruling, the judges said that “the motion is denied for failure to meet requisite standards.”

The request for an emergency stay was filed on January 15, only days after a lower-court Judge ruled against the lawsuit brought by Agudath Israel of America; the Satmar-affiliated Central Rabbinical Congress, the Chabad-affiliated International Bris Association and three mohalim who were seeking an injunction against a newly enacted regulation.

This regulation requires mohalim to ask parents to sign a consent form which espouses the NYC Department of Health’s view associating metzitzah b’peh (MBP) with serious health risks, a position rejected by mohalim and leading medical experts.

This latest ruling was only in regard to the request for an emergency stay; the Appeals Court has yet to consider the request for the injunction.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the Court of Appeals’ decision not to issue a stay,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America told Hamodia. “But our legal arguments are strong, and we believe they will ultimately carry the day.” Yerachmiel Simins, an attorney for the plaintiffs stressed that the lawsuit is continuing.

“This motion was but a small step along the road of this lawsuit,” Simins said. “The appeal of the decision on the preliminary injunction continues, and we look forward to beginning discovery in the action for permanent injunctive relief to show once and for all the baselessness of the City’s accusations against MBP.

“Until then, NYC stands ingloriously as the only city in America that forces mohalim to choose between law and religious practice, the only place that falsely maligns bris milah with a governmental imprimatur, and the only municipality in the country that has the chutzpah to pasken for Yidden,” Simins concluded.

Yosef Chaim Salazar, an attorney who practices in Baltimore and New York and is not affiliated with the case, told Hamodia that this most recent decision is not an indication of how the Appeals court will rule on the actual request for an injunction.

“It is very rare for an Appeals court to grant an emergency stay,” Mr. Salazar said. “I don’t think any conclusion should be drawn from this specific ruling.”

(A version of this story appeared in Friday’s daily.)