US Jewish groups appeal ruling in favor of protestors outside Michigan synagogue

In the wake of a federal appeals court ruling that anti-Jewish protestors have been within their free speech rights during two decades of weekly picketing outside a Michigan synagogue, Agudath Israel and other Jewish groups are asking for the case to be reheard. A federal appeals court ruled shortly before Yom Kippur that the protestors who have been picketing outside Beth Israel Congregation synagogue in Ann Arbor every week since 2003 are legally exercising their right to free speech, the Detroit Jewish News reported. On Thursday, Agudath Israel of America, along with seven other national Jewish organizations, filed an amicus curiae brief asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case with significant ramifications for religious freedom and the right to worship, Agudath Israel said in a statement. During their weekly demonstrations, the protestors hold signs that contain anti-Semitic slogans such as "Jewish Power Corrupts," "Resist Jewish Power," "End the Palestinian Holocaust," and "No More Wars for Israel." They protest in front of congregants as they enter the synagogue to pray. The congregation includes several Holocaust survivors. The synagogue said in its case that the protests are especially upsetting for its older members who are survivors. "One of the members bringing the case is a Holocaust survivor who has suffered extreme emotional distress from the ongoing protests which prevents him, at times, from attending synagogue services," said Agudath Israel. After Beth Israel members' pleas to the City of Ann Arbor to take action against the protestors by enforcing permit laws were rejected, the congregation filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an order barring the protests. When that was denied on free speech grounds, the synagogue appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals where a "panel of judges ruled that they had shown concrete injury, but that the protestors had free speech rights under the First Amendment and the protests were allowed to continue." Congregants have submitted new petitions to the appellate court requesting the case be reheard. "The petitions argue that the protestors violated numerous laws and that the protests are not protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment but rather constitute intimidation and harassment and interfere with their constitutional right to free exercise of their religion," said Agudath Israel. When the groups learned about the case, "Agudath Israel of America took the lead in the effort to submit a "friend of the court" brief in support of the plaintiffs" petitions." They were joined by other Jewish groups, including the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, the Agudas HaRabbonim, the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, the Rabbinical Council of America, Torah Umesorah (the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools), and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. The brief contends that the case is one of "attacks on private citizens" rights to exercise their religion freely when faced with consistent and sustained vicious protests targeting them specifically – as private citizens and as Jews." It further argues that the protests are not covered under First Amendment protections because it "includes epithets that, throughout the history of the Jewish people – from ancient times through the present – has led to assaults, pogroms, and murder." They are asking the court to accept their petition to rehear the case and to reverse its ruling allowing the protests to continue. "We hope that the Sixth Circuit will agree to accept the petitions for rehearing and rule that this case should have a full hearing on all the issues," Mordechai Biser, special counsel for Agudath Israel of America, said. "Allowing such protests to continue creates a dangerous precedent that could lead to additional protests and potential violence at houses of worship across the country."

US Jewish groups appeal ruling in favor of protestors
outside Michigan synagogue
In the wake of a federal appeals court ruling that anti-Jewish protestors have been within their free speech rights during two decades of weekly picketing outside a Michigan synagogue, Agudath Israel and other Jewish groups are asking for the case to be reheard. A federal appeals court ruled shortly before Yom Kippur that the protestors who have been picketing outside Beth Israel Congregation synagogue in Ann Arbor every week since 2003 are legally exercising their right to free speech, the Detroit Jewish News reported. On Thursday, Agudath Israel of America, along with seven other national Jewish organizations, filed an amicus curiae brief asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case with significant ramifications for religious freedom and the right to worship, Agudath Israel said in a statement. During their weekly demonstrations, the protestors hold signs that contain anti-Semitic slogans such as "Jewish Power Corrupts," "Resist Jewish Power," "End the Palestinian Holocaust," and "No More Wars for Israel." They protest in front of congregants as they enter the synagogue to pray. The congregation includes several Holocaust survivors. The synagogue said in its case that the protests are especially upsetting for its older members who are survivors. "One of the members bringing the case is a Holocaust survivor who has suffered extreme emotional distress from the ongoing protests which prevents him, at times, from attending synagogue services," said Agudath Israel. After Beth Israel members' pleas to the City of Ann Arbor to take action against the protestors by enforcing permit laws were rejected, the congregation filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an order barring the protests. When that was denied on free speech grounds, the synagogue appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals where a "panel of judges ruled that they had shown concrete injury, but that the protestors had free speech rights under the First Amendment and the protests were allowed to continue." Congregants have submitted new petitions to the appellate court requesting the case be reheard. "The petitions argue that the protestors violated numerous laws and that the protests are not protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment but rather constitute intimidation and harassment and interfere with their constitutional right to free exercise of their religion," said Agudath Israel. When the groups learned about the case, "Agudath Israel of America took the lead in the effort to submit a "friend of the court" brief in support of the plaintiffs" petitions." They were joined by other Jewish groups, including the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, the Agudas HaRabbonim, the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, the Rabbinical Council of America, Torah Umesorah (the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools), and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. The brief contends that the case is one of "attacks on private citizens" rights to exercise their religion freely when faced with consistent and sustained vicious protests targeting them specifically – as private citizens and as Jews." It further argues that the protests are not covered under First Amendment protections because it "includes epithets that, throughout the history of the Jewish people – from ancient times through the present – has led to assaults, pogroms, and murder." They are asking the court to accept their petition to rehear the case and to reverse its ruling allowing the protests to continue. "We hope that the Sixth Circuit will agree to accept the petitions for rehearing and rule that this case should have a full hearing on all the issues," Mordechai Biser, special counsel for Agudath Israel of America, said. "Allowing such protests to continue creates a dangerous precedent that could lead to additional protests and potential violence at houses of worship across the country."