A judge issued a tentative ruling today stating that a proposed ballot measure that would criminalize male circumcision in San Francisco should be stricken from the November ballot because of its conflict with a state law about medical procedures.
The proposed ban would punish people who circumcise a minor with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.
The ban is the subject of a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday morning that would result in its removal from the ballot if Judge Loretta Giorgi sticks with the tentative ruling she issued in the case this afternoon.
The organizer of the ban campaign, Lloyd Schofield, has said he believes male circumcision is wrong and likened it to female circumcision practices that are already banned in the U.S. He collected thousands of signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
But opponents of the ban, who include the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League, filed a lawsuit last month that seeks to have the measure removed from the ballot.
The opponents say San Francisco would have no power to enact the ordinance because only the state can make rules about medical procedures, and have also argued that the decision to circumcise boys for religious reasons is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Giorgi appears to side with the opponents’ argument about the state regulation of medical procedures, according to the tentative ruling she issued in the case this afternoon.
Giorgi said in the ruling that the ordinance should be stricken from the ballot because “it attempts to regulate a medical procedure” and the state law “leaves no room for localities to regulate in this area.”
She said, “It serves no legitimate purpose to allow a measure whose invalidity can be determined as a matter of law to remain on the ballot after such a ruling has been made.”
Schofield was not immediately available for comment today, but the city attorney’s office, which has also filed a brief in the case saying the law was “clearly invalid,” said they have received word from him that he plans to go forward with his oral argument at Thursday’s hearing.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the city’s Civic Center Courthouse, located at 400 McAllister St.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News