A group seeking to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has succeeded in getting their controversial measure on the November ballot, meaning voters will be asked to weigh in on what until now has been a private family matter.
City elections officials confirmed Wednesday that the initiative had received enough signatures to appear on the ballot, getting more than 7,700 valid signatures from city residents. Initiatives must receive at least 7,168 signatures to qualify.
If the measure passes, circumcision would be prohibited among males under the age of 18. The practice would become a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions. [Emphasis added.]
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [Emphasis added.]
Banning circumcision would almost certainly prompt a flurry of legal challenges alleging violations of the First Amendment's guarantee of the freedom to exercise one's religious beliefs....
"For a city that's renowned for being progressive and open-minded, to even have to consider such an intolerant proposition ... it sets a dangerous precedent for all cities and states," said Rabbi Gil Yosef Leeds of Berkeley. Rabbi Leeds is a certified "mohel," the person who traditionally performs ritual circumcisions in the Jewish faith.
He said he receives phone calls every day from members of the local Jewish community who are concerned about the proposed ban. But he said he is relatively confident that even if the measure is approved, it will be abruptly—and indefinitely—tied up in litigation.
Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
A person is not incompetent to be a witness or juror because of his or her opinions on religious beliefs.
compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws,, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races... environmental protection laws,
The American judiciary was designed to be an anti-democratic institution. James Madison called it “an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive." The idea is that the courts are uniquely situated to protect both individual liberties and unpopular minorities against the tyranny of the majority. Judges do this (if they do it) by striking down democratically-enacted laws.