Religious Liberty? It’s Simple, A Hasidic Woman Explains

Judge Rachel Freier with (from L-R) her nephew, husband and son.
Judge Rachel Freier with (from L-R) her nephew, husband and son.

To almost nobody’s surprise, 2016 ended with another confusing and un-American blow in the “religious freedom” vs. freedom freedom category. As Slate’s tireless Mark Joseph Stern noted, a “bizarre ruling” by a US District Judge allows doctors to discriminate against patients whose medical decisions don’t comport with their religious beliefs (i.e. those who’ve had an abortion or are transgender).

Now let’s hear from another judge, Rachel Freier, the first Hasidic woman elected to public office in the US, who completed her Bachelor’s and law degrees while raising 6 children. Questioned about conflicts between religious and civil law by Gothamist’s Raphael Pope-Sussman, the deeply religious ultra-Orthodox judge responded:

So there is a dictum in the Talmud, that’s dina d’malkhuta dina. Which is Aramaic for, “The law of the land is the law.” If something comes to the courtroom, it’s the law of the United States that applies. When two religious Jews have a dispute and they arbitrate in front of the beis din, then the beis din has the authority to make the decision. Because they chose arbitration. But once something comes into a court of law, it’s the law of the country that applies. It’s not even a question.

Amen.