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Supreme Court Corrects Kagan Dissent

The original text misidentified America’s first Jewish community

Yair Rosenberg
May 19, 2014

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld the right of legislatures to open with sectarian religious prayer in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. In the aftermath of that decision, much attention was given to Justice Elena Kagan’s spirited dissent, in which she invoked her Jewish heritage to argue against permitting the prayers, citing the famous story of George Washington’s visit to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island. But as I noted at the time, Kagan made a small miscue in her Jewish history lesson: she labeled Newport as “the first community of American Jews,” when that honor in fact belongs to New Amsterdam (today’s New York), where Jews settled in 1654.

Our post on the mistake was picked up by a variety of legal blogs, including Religion Clause and The Volokh Conspiracy. The information was also provided to the clerks’ office at the high court itself. It appears that the Supreme Court got the message, because over the weekend, it corrected Kagan’s dissent. Here’s the relevant portion in the original opinion:

And here’s the revised version:

We’re gratified that the Supreme Court recognized and corrected this small error in a timely fashion. Now, if only we could get The Economist to do the same.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.