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Lawsuit addresses rights violated by mandate to pay dues to anti-Israel union

The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys passed a resolution accusing the Jewish state of “ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

Symbol of law and justice in a courtroom. Credit: corgarashu/Shutterstock.
Symbol of law and justice in a courtroom. Credit: corgarashu/Shutterstock.

Legal action will test the First Amendment question of whether or not it violates an employee’s religious freedom to mandate paying a union that has taken public positions in violation of its worker’s faith-based principles.

Jewish legal aid attorneys Arnold Levine and Allen Popper sued their union—the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA)—and the City of New York on Thursday in Manhattan federal court.

The plaintiffs cited ALAA’s passing of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip amid six months of war by the Israel Defense Forces after the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, resulting in the murder of 1,200 people and the kidnapping of another 250. The union claimed that Israel was engaging in “ethnic cleansing and genocide” as violations of their rights.

Levine previously tried to opt out of the union, regarding its leadership as antisemitic. He learned that while he could do so, he was still obligated to pay dues.

The suit seeks to stop the requirement that Levine and Popper pay the union and reimburse them for previous payments.

ALAA, an affiliate of the United Auto Workers union, represents about 2,700 lawyers who work for New York-area groups.

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