New York, NY, July 17, 2003 … Calling it a case that “stretches both the law and common sense," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a Washington State man's demand that the state pay for him to become a minister.
In an amicus curiae brief filed in Locke v. Davey on behalf of a coalition of Jewish organizations, the League argues that the lawsuit by Joshua Davey of Spokane, Washington is "without merit" because it ignores the core constitutional principle that government may not fund religion.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Mr. Davey's claim that he cannot fully or freely practice his religion without taxpayer financial support is without merit and stretches both the law and common sense. No one in the State of Washington has told Mr. Davey that he cannot study for the ministry, and he remains entirely free to study for whatever religious job or avocation he wants. He just may not ask the government to pay for it.
Our brief asks the Supreme Court to reaffirm the core constitutional principle that government may not fund religion. We ask this not because of hostility toward religion but because we know that this principle is essential to the continued flourishing of religious practice and beliefs in America, and to ensure the protection of minority religions and their adherents.
Joining ADL in the brief are Hadassah: the Women's Zionist Organization of America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. The brief was prepared by the law firm of O'Melveny & Meyers and signed by eminent legal scholars Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of Southern California Law School and Frederick Lawrence of Boston University School of Law. Martin E. Karlinsky, ADL Legal Affairs Chairman and attorney, Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman, also signed the brief.