Forward Thinking

Should Rubashkin Case Head to Supreme Court?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

  • Print
  • Share Share

Supporters of jailed kosher meat CEO Sholom Rubashkin received a boost this week in the form of a blog post by a senior editor for the online magazine Slate.

The post, by Slate’s Emily Bazelon, provides rare secular media backing for Rubashkin, who enjoys overwhelming sympathy among Orthodox Jews.

A former top executive of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking concern, Rubashkin was convicted of scores of counts of financial fraud in 2009 and is currently serving a 27-year jail sentence. The charges came in the wake of a massive immigration raid on the Agriprocessors facility.

The Forward was the first newspaper to report on employee and animal welfare problems at Agriprocessor’s Postville, Iowa plant.

In her Slate post, Bazelon pointed to two longstanding concerns about Rubashkin’s conviction and sentencing. Bazelon noted that his 27-year sentence is relatively long for a bank fraud conviction. She also cited concerns that the judge who heard the case, Linda Reade, was prejudiced by her involvement in planning the raid on the Agriprocessors plant.

Bazelon wrote that a number of attorneys — including Bazelon’s own sister — have filed amicus curiae briefs asking the Supreme Court to review a request for a retrial.

Bazelon herself is an attorney, a fellow at Yale Law School, and is the granddaughter of Judge David L. Bazelon, a prominent jurist who sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“[E]ven if you can’t bring yourself to care much about the fate of Sholom Rubashkin, the oddities of this case don’t sit well,” Bazelon wrote in Slate. “Judges shouldn’t be able to make up their own rules for policing themselves.”

Concern over Reade’s dual role in planning the immigration raid and overseeing Rubashkin’s trial are nothing new. In January 2011, the Forward’s Gal Beckerman reported that the ACLU had filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Rubashkin’s request for a retrial.

But though non-Orthodox attorneys have intervened on Rubashkin’s behalf in the past, most public expressions of concern over Rubashkin’s treatment have been restricted to the Orthodox sector, where he has become a cause célèbre. Beckerman reported in May 2010 on a slickly produced video in support of Rubashkin, and in July 2010 on a rally in support of Rubashkin in Brooklyn’s Boro Park.

Rubashkin was also the subject of an October 2011 web campaign by Orthodox supporters to force the White House to comment on Rubashkin’s treatment by the justice system.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Supreme Court, Slate, Sholom Rubashkin, Emily Bazelon

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.