Agudah Files Brief in Historic Supreme Court Case

As the Supreme Court prepared to hear oral argument in a case that could radically alter the moral fiber of the nation’s legal code, Agudath Israel of America submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief urging the High Court to preserve the traditional understanding of the issue.

“The guidance that we have received from the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah is that when there is an issue of the distortion of the position of the Torah that is promulgated by non-Orthodox groups in a public forum that we must speak up and set the record straight,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, told Hamodia.

The high-profile case, Obergefell v. Hodges, has resulted in the submission of over 140 amicus briefs to the court, a record-setting number.

Rabbi Zwiebel said that should the court side with the plaintiffs, “not only would it accelerate a dangerous social revolution in the broad society around us, it could severely jeopardize the religious liberty and social standing of religious communities like ours that can never accept such a legal innovation.”

The brief also discusses why a determination that traditional laws are unconstitutional would pose a serious threat to religious liberty. Even in those states that have enacted new laws, the brief points out, at the same time they have enacted certain protections for religious dissenters who adhere to the new laws, for example, the right of clergy members to refuse as a matter of religious conviction to participate in immoral situations. In contrast, if the court rules for plaintiff, the rights of religious dissenters may remain unprotected.

Commenting on the significance of the Agudath Israel brief, Rabbi Zwiebel bemoaned “the sad fact — the tragic fact! — that ours was the only Jewish voice standing up for traditional values. All the other Jewish amicus curiae groups — including the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist groups, in a brief submitted jointly with a number of non-Jewish religious groups — came down on the side of [the plaintiff].’”

“I hope the Supreme Court will recognize the strength of our legal arguments, and reject the constitutional challenge. Only time will tell. But for one thing we need not wait: getting the message out to the world around us, and especially to the Jewish world around us, that no matter what the falsifiers of Judaism may say, we can never accept the validity [of this position]. If our brief accomplishes nothing more than delivering that message, we will already have accomplished a great deal.”