In August GALDEF joined Doctors Opposing Circumcision and Jews Against Circumcision in submitting Amici Curiae briefs to the U.S Supreme Court in support of Eric Clopper’s appeal of denial of due process in his case against Harvard University.

On October 2 the U.S. Supreme Court entered an order denying Eric Clopper’s petition to hear his appeal. This leaves in place the trial court’s earlier dismissal of his case.

These petitions are denied in the great majority of cases. Cooperating attorney John R. Sylla estimated the chances of acceptance at 20%, and said he was proud of the Amicus Brief hitting important points. It magnified the importance of a civil procedure question by tying in religious and medical concerns about circumcision, and Harvard’s alleged duplicity about free expression.

According to Sylla, the court system can work in interesting ways. It often announces with the passive voice, as in “The Motion is denied,” and without clear and complete explanation. He recalled that courts once avoided the issue of same-sex marriage for a very long time, and finally addressed the matter only after a majority of the public was in favor, and to resolve a problem of consistency where a couple might be married in one state but lose that status if they moved to another state. 

One could speculate that the Court is likewise not yet ready or eager to be seen as weighing in on circumcision, and prefers that more debate first play out in other fora.

Regardless of the result, GALDEF’s joint efforts in this case have, in Sylla’s words, “without any doubt advanced the cause admirably.”



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