Circumcision Ban Is Unconstitutional and Anti-Semitic, City Attorney Says

Categories: Local News
Ancient Circumcision-thumb-275x192-thumb-300x209.jpg
Now things are really becoming uncomfortable
City Attorney Dennis Herrera has weighed in on San Francisco's proposed circumcision ban issue, saying that, among other things, it's patently unconstitutional and should be removed from the November ballot.

In a brief filed Thursday afternoon, Herrera says the ban would be unconstitutional the courts exempt medical professions from the ban's provisions. His argument builds on a lawsuit filed by the Jewish and Muslim communities on June 22, which asks the courts to remove the measure from the ballot.

It's rare for the city attorney to take a legal position on ballot measures. But Herrera felt he had to step in.

"While the City is not reaching a legal conclusion on the plaintiffs' argument about state preemption, it is abundantly clear that the measure will be unconstitutional if narrowly applied to religious practices," said Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart. "Especially in light of disturbing campaign materials that evoke the ugliest kind of anti-Semitic propaganda, the city has an obligation to petition the court to remove the measure from the ballot in its entirety if it is preempted as applied to medical professionals."

If passed by voters, the measure would criminalize circumcision performed on any male under the age of 18. The movement started last year when foreskin activists claimed that young boys should not suffer genital mutilation. The practice of circumcision is a 3,000-year-old ritual within the Jewish community.

"Boys are born with a foreskin for a reason," Matt Hess, who wrote the ballot language, told SF Weekly last month. "The foreskin functions like an eyelid, providing protection and keeping the penis moist and sensitive."

Jewish leaders have argued that banning the practice would be a violation of their freedom of religion. On top of that, they say circumcision is a health benefit, reducing the risk of HIV and increasing sexual pleasure in men. 

"San Franciscans cannot be asked to vote on whether to prohibit religious minorities from engaging in a particular religious practice, when the same practice may be performed under nonreligious auspices," Stewart said.

Hess told SF Weekly this morning that the ballot measure targets all forced male circumcisions and does not single out mohels or any one religion.

"The Supreme Court ruled long ago in Prince vs. Massachusetts that while parents are free to make martyrs of themselves, they are not free to make martyrs of their children," Hess says. "This clearly applies to forced genital cutting of children performed in the name of religion."

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7 comments
MC_HIV
MC_HIV

The movement did not start last year. It started over 30 years ago. The campaign materials do not contain anti-Semtic materials. No campaign materials have been created yet. This measure does not suppress the religious rights of Jews. Jews can get circumcised if they wish. They are just barred from marking their religion on the bodies of their infant offspring by this measure. And the city attorney has his head up his ass.

Hugh Intactive
Hugh Intactive

"San Franciscans cannot be asked to vote on whether to prohibit religious minorities from engaging in a particular religious practice, when the same practice may be performed under nonreligious auspices," Stewart said.

But the initiative would apply the same age-restriction to religious and non-religious (parental whim) genital cutting. It has an exception for medical need,so where's the unconstitutionality?

FaaiezMohammad
FaaiezMohammad

This is the ugliest beauty of democracy that majority can suppress rights of minority even the minority is super right and majority dead- wrong. live pakistan news

Hugh Intactive
Hugh Intactive

That is true, only the ugliness in this case is that the majority will probably go with the super-wrong of suppressing the rights lifelong of the powerless, non-voting newborn minority to the ownership of their own normal, healthy, non-regrowing, functional body parts.

Naji Wench
Naji Wench

A parent has the first  amendment right to do whatever they want to their own body. The child has the fourteenth amendment protection to their own life and whole body, regardless of their parents religion or race. The child also has the first amendment right to do whatever they want to their own body, when they are old enough to choose it. What parents do NOT have the right to do is choose what religious rites and surgeries to perform on another person, including, but not limited to, their own children.

Hugh Intactive
Hugh Intactive

Well before someone else says it, they can perform the religious rite of baptism on their own children, but that has the significant difference from circumcision of wiping off in seconds with a paper towel, leaving no (physical) trace.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

The first amendment now includes performing surgery on other people?

Cool!  I'm going to give women breast implants -- for religious reasons, of course.

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