Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation is a crisis for our community
We are deeply concerned about the lasting harm to LGBTQ and other vulnerable people with the confirmation of Judge Coney Barrett. Her positions on equal protection, privacy, and religious liberty stand in opposition to Keshet’s nationwide work to advance LGBTQ equality, create a more inclusive Jewish community, and build a more just world.
At this moment, we are on a precipice
Justices Thomas and Alito have already taken aim at marriage equality. Justice Coney Barrett will surely join them.
But marriage equality is merely one right under assault. The first blow to LGBTQ rights could be Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, scheduled to be heard by the Court on November 4, with Justice Coney Barrett participating on her first day on the Supreme Court. A decision in this case could allow private agencies that receive taxpayer-funding – food banks, homeless shelters, and foster care providers, for example – to deny services to LGBTQ people.
On the horizon are cases that will determine transgender people’s access to healthcare, whether same-sex couples can adopt or foster children, whether children born outside of the country to same-sex couples will have equal access to citizenship, access to reproductive health care including abortion, equity and protections for immigrants and refugees, and rights of people living with HIV. Clearly, Justice Coney Barrett represents a threat to all those who champion liberty, dignity, and human rights.
This is not the pursuit of justice that we understand as Jews
As Jews, we celebrate the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom, a right the Supreme Court has historically safeguarded. And we know better than most that religious freedom thrives in a democracy that maintains a firewall between “church” and state and preserves each individual’s dignity. And sadly, we know, too, that our rights may be gutted under the guise of so-called “religious liberty” as defined by Justice Coney Barrett.
One of the Torah’s most important calls – Tzedek tzedek tirdof (Justice, justice you shall pursue) – proudly hung in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, z”l, chambers. These words remind us all that the pursuit of justice is our responsibility and does not rest solely with the courts or our elected officials.
We are fearful, but recognize the need to be vigilant and prepared
Confronted by the confirmation of Justice Coney Barrett, what can we do today to positively affect our lives, our communities, and our future?
This is one way to protect and advance LGBTQ equality, racial justice, immigrant rights, and access to reproductive health. It is how you can protect people living with HIV and help preserve the religious liberty we cherish as Jews. Voting is how we show up for each other.
The Senators we elect will confirm future Supreme Court Justices and hundreds of federal judges. They can prevent an illegitimate process like Justice Coney Barrett’s nomination, that occurred during a Presidential election and a pandemic when there are many more pressing priorities.
The Congress and President we elect can at long last pass and sign the Equality Act, a law that will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public education.
For all of us who care about justice, equality, and the Jewish commitment to healing the world, voting is uplifting and essential. We must remain steadfast and, with our youth, allies, and each other, strategize and organize for a whole new chapter in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights, dignity, and justice.
Idit Klein, President and CEO of Keshet
Seth M. Marnin, Chair of the Board of Keshet