Supreme Court Nominee Helped Protect Public Menorahs



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    Supreme Court Nominee Helped Protect Public Menorahs

    Attorney Nathan Lewin, a Jewish lawyer who has helped many Shluchim in court battles for their public Menorahs wrote an Op-Ed in the JTA website about how supreme court nominee Amy Barrett defended the Menorahs • Full Story

    Attorney Nathan Lewin, a Jewish lawyer who has helped many Shluchim in court battles for their public Menorahs wrote an Op-Ed in the JTA website about how supreme court nominee Amy Barrett defended the Menorahs.

    President Trump seeks to replace Jewish Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a devout Catholic from Indiana. Some might worry that this would diminish the Court’s understanding or compassion for Jews in America. They may wonder whether the new Justice has ever met or had any contact with Jews. But having worked with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, I have seen her defend the rights of Jewish Americans firsthand.

    As a young lawyer after her clerkship with Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett was an associate in a law firm of which I am the sole surviving name partner – Miller Cassidy Larroca and Lewin. The firm merged in 2001 – shortly before Barrett returned to teach at Notre Dame – with Baker Botts. (Although invited to do so, I did not join Baker Botts. My daughter Alyza and I formed Lewin & Lewin instead.)

    Our firm attracted the cream of young lawyers because of our exciting case docket and because we gave them front-line courtroom opportunities in real-life cutting-edge cases. Supreme Court law clerks vied for associate slots in our firm even after wealthy large law firms began dangling obscenely gargantuan signing bonuses to attract them to the drudgery of young associate labors.

    Our firm was distinctly non-political. Jack Miller, the firm’s founder, was a Republican who had been an Assistant Attorney General in the Robert Kennedy Department of Justice. I was — and continue to be — a registered Democrat who has also voted Republican. I was abroad when Bush v. Gore was being litigated, but two of our partners supervised Amy Barrett’s work in Florida assisting the Republican side.

    Amy Barrett worked with me in 1999 and 2000 on behalf of Hasidic clients. I had — and continue to have — an ongoing battle with authorities in cities, towns and villages across the country that attempt to hinder or prevent the display of Hanukkah menorahs on public property by Chabad followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. (No one contests the right to display menorahs on private property, and no Jewish group other than Chabad-Lubavitch, to my knowledge, has tried to erect and display large menorahs on central public locations.)

    The Supreme Court had ruled in 1989, in a case that I argued, that such a display in front of Pittsburgh’s City Hall was constitutional, and we then won full-court en banc victories in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Nonetheless, the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union challenged Jersey City’s display of a menorah and a nativity scene in federal court. Chabad, represented pro bono by our firm, came into that case as a friend-of-the-court, and Richard Garnett, Amy Barrett’s colleague at Notre Dame (then a fledgling lawyer and now a highly respected professor), argued successfully in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that the display was constitutionally permissible. (The court’s majority opinion was written by then-Circuit Judge Samuel Alito)

    More can be found at www.JTA.org

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    Supreme Court Nominee Helped Protect Public Menorahs



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