A proposal in San Francisco to ban the circumcision of males under 18 is facing a legal challenge after opponents filed suit to block the measure from the ballot in November.
The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco and number of Jewish and Muslim individuals filed suit Wednesday, saying San Francisco would have no power to enforce the ban.
“Existing California law is clear,” Nancy Appel, ADL’s associate director in San Francisco, said in a statement. “Only the state can make rules about medical procedures and this initiative violates that law. Not only does this initiative waste time, energy and expense, but it also offends the notions of parental rights and freedom of religion. It is unconstitutional and, as we allege in this lawsuit, contrary to California law.”
The ADL’s release urges a judge to strike down the proposal before November, in order to “spare the city and its residents from wasting resources debating and voting on an ordinance that cannot become law.”
The “Male Genital Mutilation Bill” garnered the more than 7,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot in November. Lloyd Schofield, director of the San Francisco office of the MGM Bill organization, aired his grievances with circumcision in a heated discussion with celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach on CNN last month.
“It’s a human right to have intact genitals, unless you choose otherwise” Schofield said. He claims the proposal intends to “protect the rights of men to choose for themselves when they’re old if they want to become circumcised.”
Opponents of the measure say it violates the First Amendment. “I think it’s un-American, I really do,” Abigail Michelson Porth, associate director of the Committee For Parental Choice & Religious Freedom, told Reuters. The group is one of the leading opponents of the measure.
If the proposal passes, circumcisions would become a misdemeanor offense carrying a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail.
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com