Legal road to get anti-circumcision bill off ballot is one worth taking

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With the proposed San Francisco circumcision ban looming on the fall ballot, some Jewish community leaders have decided to take action. Now.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, mohels and doctors — as well as some Jewish and Muslim parents — have asked the court to withdraw the measure from the ballot (see story on page 2).

A lawsuit filed June 22 in San Francisco Superior Court seeks to prevent the proposed ban from even going before the voters. Plaintiffs cite existing state law, which forbids cities from barring doctors from performing legitimate medical procedures.

The statute in question seems clear: Only the state, with its medical quality assurance boards and other forms of oversight, has the authority to determine what doctors can and cannot do.

It’s not up to a city or its voters to decide whether heart bypass surgery should be legal. Along those same lines, neither can voters weigh in on a bill that would ban and criminalize circumcision, the lawsuit claims.

Admittedly, the prospect of San Franciscans voting down this odious measure is an enticing one. A crushing defeat would show the world that parental and religious rights are not on the chopping block, not even in San Francisco.

Moreover, should the court rule in the plaintiffs’ favor, anti-circumcision activists could point to the ruling as judicial activism, circumventing the will of the people. This argument, though specious, could resonate, even with some individuals opposed to the ban.

Nevertheless, we strongly support the JCRC and its fellow plaintiffs in this effort to toss the measure off the ballot.

The fact that this proposal, which so flagrantly usurps parental and religious rights, made it onto the ballot is insulting enough. Add to it revelations of unvarnished anti-Semitism, as proven in the despicable comic book, “Foreskin Man,” (created by the man who wrote the ballot language for the San Francisco measure) and we face here a budding tyranny by ballot box.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs say that pre-election challenges like this often move quickly through the court system. That means we may soon see a resolution, perhaps even an end — for now — to this unsavory distraction.

That would be good. But we know that the anti-circumcision activists never rest, never tire. They will be back, along with their more anti-Jewish comrades.

And that means the Jewish community must likewise remain vigilant of any and all threats to our religious freedoms. As this shameful ballot proposal proves, we can never take those freedoms for granted.