Circumcision opponents suffered a legal defeat yesterday when a California court ruled the proposed referendum on banning the practice in San Francisco was to be taken off the ballot. Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi decided the referendum ran afoul of state law that forbids municipalities from banning legitimate medical procedures and was therefore “expressly pre-empted.”
While those who have promoted the referendum will probably appeal, the ruling may mean the bris banners may not have the opportunity to prevent Jews from performing their covenantal obligations by circumcising baby boys. Had the law been passed, performing a circumcision would have been a punishable offense.
Although most of the arguments on behalf of the proposal have revolved around bizarre notions about male sexuality, the anti-Semitic intent of the measure was made clear by a comic book published by one of the measure’s main proponents. As we wrote in June, the adventures of “Foreskin Man,” an on-line publication, depicted an Aryan-looking hero whose mission was to thwart the efforts of a sinister ritual circumciser named Monster Mohel. The comic book employed all the tropes of traditional anti-Semitism in a manner reminiscent of the literature of Nazi Germany.
The legal grounds for stopping the referendum appear solid, but it must be pointed out that had it been left on the ballot, the result would have been a law that was an unconstitutional act of religious bias. While we hope this ruling settles the question for the foreseeable future, given the motivation of its backers, we probably haven’t heard the last of this effort.