D.C. Settles Lawsuit over Passover Elections

The Legal Times reports that the District of Columbia has settled an action brought against it by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom – The National Synagogue, alleging that the District violated the First and Fifth Amendments by scheduling a special election on the last day of Passover. Because observant Jews cannot sign their names or use electronic devices on that holiday, Herzfeld claimed, city officials were imposing an unconstitutional burden on them.

According to the settlement agreement, Mayor Vincent Gray will recommend that the D.C. Council adopt legislation providing a window of time, rather than a mandatory date, to hold special elections. Although adoption by the Council is not guaranteed, Herzfeld’s attorney, Steven Lieberman, remarked, “I can’t believe that any representative of the people of the District of Columbia would be opposed to legislation that would broaden participation in elections.”

Can a Judge Refuse to Conduct a Gay Marriage?

That is the question that an anonymous New York judge asked the New York Judicial Ethics Committee.  In this judicial ethics opinion, the Committee largely did not answer it, though it did opine that the judge could choose to conduct only those weddings of his relatives and friends.  That would be tantamount, in the Committee’s view, to refusing to conduct marriages “on a facially neutral basis” and the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not require a judge to conduct weddings.