Circumcision Ban Doesn't Cut it With SF City Attorney

The San Francisco City Attorney doesn't often weigh in on ballot measures -- but it's not often that a circumcision ban is on the ballot, either.

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In a rare move, the office of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera -- also a leading candidate for San Francisco mayor in the same election that may outlaw foreskin removal -- filed a brief on the circumcision measure, according to the San Francisco Appeal online newspaper. The brief was written in response to outcry from opponents of the ban, which the brief appears to support.

The circumcision ban would be unconstitutional if only narrowly applied to religious practices, wrote a deputy city attorney.

The city attorney's office "rarely takes a position on the merits in pre-election litigation concerning the legality of proposed ballot measures" unless the measure would be "clearly invalid," Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart wrote. "This is such a case."

The ban's opponents include the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti Defamation League.

If enacted, the ban would punish doctors, rabbis or anyone else circumcising a minor with a fine and up to a year in jail.

The opponents of the ban are asking for a court hearing on the case to be held relatively soon, by July 15, since the city's Department of Elections has to begin preparations for putting measures on the ballot in August.

Information from proponents of the ban is available at, while opponents have set up a website of their own at

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