Bar Associations

New York City Bar Supports Right of Mosque to Locate Near Ground Zero

The New York City Bar says Mayor Michael Bloomberg did the right thing when he refused to interfere with plans to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from ground zero.

The statement by City Bar President Samuel Seymour says the group is concerned about efforts to chill the First Amendment rights of the Muslim community, the New York Law Journal reports. The cultural center project will include a 9/11 memorial as well as a pool, gym, auditorium and mosque, the story says.

“The law should not be contorted to infringe upon the lawful exercise of religion,” Seymour’s statement says. “Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our Constitution and our democratic traditions; indeed it is what brought many of this nation’s early settlers to our shores, and millions more since. The concepts of tolerance and religious freedom are deeply embedded in our legal system.”

An adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Bob Barr, makes a similar point on his blog, The Barr Code, published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “ ‘Sensitivity’ to the views of those who do not want a Muslim center to be built so close to ground zero now appears to trump the heretofore clear directive of the First Amendment,” he writes.

Fear of more terrorist attacks has also been an “oft-played constitutional trump card,” he says, and is used to justify Fourth Amendment intrusions.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.