The Orthodox Union is disappointed with yesterday’s ruling by the New York Appellate Division finding the re-creation of the Kiryas Joel school district unconstitutional. The 1994 law which re-created the school district was crafted by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to respond to the concerns voiced over the school district by the United States Supreme Court.
The 1994 law was designed so that many towns and districts in New York State with small populations could establish their own school districts where they could directly participate in the education of their children, rather than be subsumed in larger regional school districts. The law’s drafters were mindful to establish the very sort of neutral qualification criteria demanded by the Supreme Court in 1994.
The new legislation was, thus, neither “subterfuge” nor “camouflage” as the Appellate Division characterized it.
“The Orthodox Union, through its Institute for Public Affairs, will do whatever it can to assist in having this ruling reversed,” said Nathan Diament, Director of the Institute for Public Affairs, “this ruling is another example of how the First Amendment has come to be viewed by some as a mandate to prevent state and federal governments from accommodating America’s religious citizens in any manner.
“I hope,” continued Diament, “that we can help bring this case before the Supreme Court and that the Justices will finally produce a sensible and proper framework for promoting and accommodating religious liberty in the United States that is true to the purpose of the First Amendment.”