Oy, Vey

     Think twice before allowing someone to suck your child’s blood.
     This advice might seem obvious to most of you, but – you saw this coming – there is litigation about this.
     Some people don’t want you thinking twice, and they’re not vampires.
     For those who enjoy being grossed out, I direct you to a ruling last week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit: Central Rabbinical Congress v. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene , in which we learn that there are Orthodox Jewish mohelim (guys who perform circumcisions) who suck the blood from the penises of infants.
     And they don’t want nervous mothers being told that this might, in a very small number of cases, be dangerous for the child.
     You might think religious people would be opposed to child penis-sucking, but apparently there are Orthodox Jews who think this practice is mandatory, and “believe it would be sinful for them, as mohelim, to discourage parents from performing the bris milah ritual in what they regard as the religiously correct manner.”
     So the mohelim have sued to overturn a city regulation requiring them to hand parents a written warning that bloodsucking could have a bad side effect -transmission of a herpes virus that can kill infants.
     I’m not going to express an opinion on this, but there is a lesson in legislative-regulatory drafting to be learned here: Generalities can be more effective than specifics.
     This blood/penis sucking case has made it up to a federal appeals court (and is going back down to a trial court) in part because the vampire rabbis were able to argue that the regulation was aimed at a particular religious practice.
     They couldn’t have argued that, if the regulation had been aimed at blood-sucking in general.
     Vampires can’t claim they’ve been singled out if the law affects rabbis, too.
     
     Religious Speech: The value of generalizing instead of being specific was demonstrated last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which also weighed in on a religious speech topic.
     The court upheld an ordinance that was pretty clearly aimed at Krishnas, but didn’t mention them by name. The law says it’s OK to talk to people at airports but not OK to solicit money from them. The court upheld that regulation as a reasonable time, place and manner restriction.
     Even though we know that donating money is a form of speech. Apparently, money talk is only completely protected by the First Amendment if it’s being spoken by corporations or political donors.
     Or something like that.
     The ruling is International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California v. Los Angeles . It says: “Without question, solicitation of funds ‘is a form of speech protected under the First Amendment’. … The Supreme Court, however, has traditionally afforded solicitation less protection than other forms of speech.”
     Unless it’s for an enormous amount for a political campaign.
     The rationale is that asking for money can cause congestion or disruption or fraud and duress in a crowded airport, but non-money talking doesn’t.
     Cut off from their main source of funding at airports, the Krishnas will now be forced to form a Super-PAC.
     We may live to regret this.

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