The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America is disappointed with today’s decision by the New York State Court of Appeals affirming a lower court ruling that declared the re-creation of the Kiryas Joel school district unconstitutional. The Orthodox Union had joined with other Orthodox groups in a “friend of the court” brief that called upon the state’s highest court to reverse the lower court’s decision.
The current case centers upon the 1994 re-creation of the school district after the United States Supreme Court ruled its initial creation to be a violation of the Constitutions Establishment Clause. The brief submitted in support of the school district contended that the 1994 legislation was designed to adhere to the Supreme Court’s charge that the law must contain neutral criteria and not favor the religious residents of Kiryas Joel over other New York residents in order to pass constitutional muster. The brief contended that these requirements were met and, moreover, that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit the provision of secular remedial education services to a religious community.
“We are disappointed with the decision of the Court of Appeals,” said Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, “we are disappointed that once again the Constitution’s provisions designed to promote a religiously pluralistic society have been turned on their heads and used to strike down the accommodation of religious citizens. We will, of course,” continued Diament, “closely examine the court’s reasoning and assist in bringing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and ask that this ruling be reversed.”