Two of the most effective advocates in American jurisprudence on behalf of constitutional religious liberty protections, David Yeruslami, Esq. and Robert Muise, Esq., of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), today weighed in on a momentous question: Do those who believe they must, in the practice of their faith, mutilate the genitals of young girls have a right to do so in the United States?
Mr. Yerushalmi and Mr. Muise argued forcefully that religious freedom does not negate prohibitions on female genital mutilation (FGM) at the federal level and in 24 states in an open letter to another distinguished litigator, Professor Alan Dershowitz, released today. Mr. Dershowitz has recently been enlisted to help in the defense of three individuals charged with violating such laws in Michigan.
In their letter, the AFLC leaders explained that the government has a "compelling interest" in protecting females in this country from FGM. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 500,000 women and girls in this country who have either already been subjected to such mutilation or are at risk of it in the future. In their open letter, Mr. Yerushalmi and Mr. Muise stated that:
We can find no basis for believing that a federal statute or a state law designed to protect young girls from having their genitalia involuntarily and permanently disfigured would be considered unconstitutional or in violation of Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) or any state law counterpart to RFRA. That is especially true when, in addition to the lifelong denial of sexual pleasure such a procedure imposes, the short- and long-term medical problems frequently associated with it are factored in.
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