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Newsdesk August 8, 2003

Nominee Could Split Dems

Democrats are weighing an effort to block the nomination of Henry Saad, an Arab-American judge from Michigan whom Bush has tapped for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which handles federal appeals from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Although he is a conservative Republican, Saad’s record on the bench is not as troubling to civil rights groups as that of other conservative Bush nominees. His nomination, however, is being blocked because Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are demanding that the White House compromise with them on judicial candidates. Republicans blocked two nominees favored by them during the Clinton administration.

Democratic congressional aides said this week that Levin and Stabenow may fail to obtain solid support from their fellow Democrats in the Senate, however, because their party fears an electoral backlash from Michigan’s large Arab population.

Judge: Remove Monument

Lifting a stay on the enforcement of a ruling that has been hailed by leading Jewish groups and attacked by a majority of the House of Representatives, a federal district court judge Tuesday ordered Alabama’s chief justice to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove the monument he erected in the building by August 20 or face possible fines. Moore has asserted that Thompson lacks authority to order the monument removed, and some conservative Christian groups have vowed acts of civil disobedience to prevent its removal.

The day before Thompson lifted the stay, the American Jewish Congress sent a letter to senators blasting recent efforts by the House to deny federal funds for the enforcement of the Alabama decision and an appellate court ruling banning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” in public schools. In the August 4 letter, the chairman of AJCongress’s National Governing Council, Norman Redlich, called the House efforts “assaults on the rule of law” and urged senators not to follow suit.

The House last month overwhelmingly approved amendments to an appropriations bill prohibiting the use of federal funds for the enforcement of the pledge and Ten Commandments rulings in a pair of little-noticed votes. No similar measures appear to have been introduced in the Senate, and the pledge ruling remains stayed.

Citizenship Revoked

A federal judge revoked the citizenship of an alleged Nazi concentration camp guard. U.S. District Court Judge Allyne Ross in New York ruled July 31 that Jakiw Palij, 79, lied on his 1949 visa application about having been an armed guard at the SS labor camp Trawniki. Palij claimed he had worked on his father’s farm in Poland during the war. Palij’s attorney declined comment, the Associated Press reported.

Kosher Meals Cut

Two of the largest airlines in America have announced plans to discontinue kosher meals on many of their domestic flights.

US Airways discontinued its free-food service altogether on short flights last month, when it introduced its In-Flight Café Meal Service, which allows passengers to purchase meals on the plane; there are currently no kosher meals available to buy. Starting September 4, Continental Airlines will eliminate special meals, including kosher, vegetarian and kids’ meals, on short flights.

“The food service across the industry has been cut back since September 11,” said Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for US Airways. “We’re trying to reintroduce the level of food service people would like to see across the board.”

“Typically [most airlines] don’t even serve meals [for flights] under four hours,” said Julie King, a spokeswoman for Continental. In both cases, the decisions will not affect travelers on international or transcontinental flights, or first-class passengers.

United Airlines does not serve any meals for flights shorter than three and a half hours but will continue serving kosher meals on longer flights, and American and Northwest have also not changed their food service. Delta has not yet reached a decision about the future of its food program.

Although many in the Jewish community were upset to hear of the decision, it has not yet produced a strong backlash against airlines.

“We’re considering talking with the executives of these airlines about the issue,” said Nathan Diament, director of public affairs for the Orthodox Union. “Since they’re cutting special meals across the board, it’s obviously intended as some kind of cost-saving measure. It’s still unfortunate, and we believe they will lose business over it.”

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