May Congressman Order a Staffer to Give His Wife a Religious Divorce?

Why a Congressman can’t order his aide to give his wife a Jewish divorce.


Rep. Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is Roman Catholic, and he represents a district, the Michigan 4th, with few Jews. But as anyone with access to Twitter, Facebook, or the rest of the Internet can learn, Rep. Camp has a big Jewish problem. And it’s one he may be powerless to solve.

The congressman is under attack because of his aide, Aharon Friedman, an Orthodox Jewish graduate of Harvard Law School. Friedman has been legally divorced from another Orthodox Jew, Tamar Epstein, since 2010 — but has refused to give his ex-wife a get. In Orthodox Judaism, this is the document that a man must give to his wife in order for a religious divorce to go into effect. So long as Friedman refuses to give a get, Epstein cannot remarry within the faith and is considered an agunah, or chained wife.

Epstein’s limbo status has sparked an outcry in the Orthodox world…. Insisting that Friedman’s conduct amounts to domestic abuse, [Epstein’s supporters] have used the Internet, including social media and the petition site, and the national media to demand that Rep. Camp pressure Friedman to religiously divorce Epstein….

I would say as a Catholic who doesn’t believe in divorce in the first place why would he encourage or have anything to do with it? Having a “Jewish” problem is better than having a God problem!

No. This is for a Rabbinic Court. The Congressman is out of line.

It seems, from the article, that the Congressman has so far chosen not to get involved in spite of being pressured to. He is not out of line.

Opinion, no news link

In this case, the Congressman is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
If I were forced to play King Soloman, I would tell Friedman to either submit to a Rabbinic Court or find another job. Either way, the problem for the Congressman goes away.
Where is it written that anyone has a right to a job with a politician, even if he is a sitting member of Congress?
One last aside: Anyone who believes the government in the USA behaves and works like it is being taught in our Public Schools Civics courses, is a naive ignorant fool.

I think he is taking the right tact. It really isn’t his or the State’s business.

I stand corrected; the congressman has not gotten involved. Those who pressure him to get involved are out of line.

I am glad he is not forcing the staffer to go through with the divorce. It is a matter between husband and wife to sort out. At least I am glad the Congressman is standing his ground regarding his beliefs on divorce even if he is Catholic and the staffer is not.

If he did get involved, he’d be subject to an employment discrimination lawsuit. The civil divorce is finalized the religious aspect is none of a congressman’s business.

All that said, there isn’t enough here to tell if the aid is a creep or just someone who believes in dissoluble marriage.

Catholics don’t “believe in” divorce? We might want to tell all of the Tribunals that. You know, the ones that say you have to have a civil divorce before the annulment proceeding can begin.

I don’t think anyone has alleged it’s the state’s business. It is however the Congressman’s business if an employee’s situation is interfering with the Congressman’s ability to do his job, get his message out, etc.

[quote=manualman]If he did get involved, he’d be subject to an employment discrimination lawsuit.

I’m not so sure - Congress exempted itself from a lot of these laws. I do not know whether that’s the case for the relevant laws in question here.

I did a bit of research, and I discovered that the Congressional Accountability Act in 1994 (props to Newt) closed a lot of the loopholes for Congress with regard to employment discrimination.

I’m still not sure whether a congressman could legally fire his staffer for being a distraction due to his religious situation. I think in general not, but a congressman’s office is a very public-oriented job, and if the staffer were unable to effectively meet with constituents, lobbyists, coordinate with committee staffers, arrange press conferences, etc, then I think he could be fired on that basis even if the underlying cause of those problems is people shunning him or protesting or throwing eggs at him due to his religious issue. However, I am not an HR professional.

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