Today, the leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – and the Rabbinical Council of America — a membership body representing 1,000 Orthodox rabbis, issued the following statement with regard to the death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia:
The leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America was saddened to learn of the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was a towering intellect, passionate architect of American law and dedicated public servant. Of course, as a member of the high court, Justice Scalia shaped so many areas of the law, but for the American Orthodox Jewish community, among the issues dealt with by the court, one of the most important to us is that of religious liberty. Through his opinions in many cases interpreting the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, (with the notable exception of his majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith), Justice Scalia moved the jurisprudence of that topic away from an extreme view of strict separationism and back to a principled approach of government neutrality toward and equality among religions.
On the whole, Justice Scalia contributed much to expanding religious liberty in the United States and we are thankful for his service. We extend our condolences to his beloved wife, children and grandchildren.