Foundation for Litigant Parity


Bar Mitzvah case Missing Writ of Certiorari found at the US Supreme Court

The appeal submitted to the US Supreme Court by Gubernatorial Candidate Lee Whitnum ( CT-D) in the Whitnum v. Town of Greenwich controversial "Bar Mitzvah case" has been found. Whitnum believes US postal service receipt signed February 1 was the impetus for the sudden re-appearance, 3 weeks later. Whitnum received a call from the clerk on February 22, 2017 that the missing Writ of Certiorari suddenly surfaced. Whitnum still blames the disappearance on a renegade who didn’t like the content of the controversial case.  

“A missing document at the US Supreme Court is unheard of,” said Whitnum. “I still think it was sabotage but at least the case is back in play.”

The writ is an appeal of the Appellate Court Second Circuit upholding Federal Judge Underhill’s dismissal of the case. Whitnum is contesting Judge Underhill’s blindsided dismissal as premature as it left several causes of action open.  The case  included four violations of the Establishment Clause and four violations of Article 7 of the Connecticut Constitution. Whitnum claims the press has erroneously reported this case was about the flag raising celebrating Israel’s 68th birthday. 

“It was more than that, there were other issues,” said Whitnum. “The main one being the access allowed to the Jewish community to a municipal building that far exceeded that ever granted to any other religious group,” said Whitnum. “The Bar Mitzvah of Aner Shofty was a separately scheduled event from the flag raising with a separate invitation list and a separate party all at the Town Hall. We learned that from the deposition of Senator Richard Blumenthal and others.” 

In addition, an important fact that Judge Underhill tried to deny existed was that Whitnum twice had tried to book a Christian Confirmation at the same venue, six months and then again a year after the bar mitzvah. “We were turned down. That is preferential treatment,” Said Whitnum. “And violation of the Establishment Clause and Article 7.”

“Underhill claimed at the July 16, 2015 hearing, that I had never provided proof of the affidavits of the two people, who tried to book a Christian Confirmation for me, but I insisted and insisted and the clerk found the proof during the hearing.” Said Whitnum, “Additionally the affidavits were a major part of the pleading for Summary Judgment two years prior.”

Whitnum claims that Judge Underhill blindsided her with dismissal with an argument never bought up by the other side.  “Underhill stated that since I had not viewed the Bar Mitzvah I had no standing, but I could not have viewed the Bar Mitzvah as it was not open to the public; it was a separately scheduled, behind closed doors, RSVP event. Underhill ruled on an impossible benchmark.”

Whitnum showed up to court on June 16, 2015 to argue a scheduled Motion on Standing and the Third Amended Complaint both filed on May 28, 2015. The abrupt dismissal occurred when she was caught unware which she claims is a violation of federal rule 60 – a rule against being blindsided. Whitnum also claimed in Appellate Court documents that Judge Underhill repeatedly denied the amended complaints to encompass evidence which was a repeated violation of Rule 15. Additionally, the Bar Mitzvah aside, there were other causes of action.

“The bottom line is, if a judge is hell-bent to make sure you don’t win – then you don’t.“ said Whitnum who quotes Underhill’s own words on June 16, 2015 at the hearing:

 ‘You’ve come forward with sufficient evidence from which a jury could find that a Bar Mitzvah was held at the Town Hall...’ said Whitnum.  “Underhill said that, so okay, and then what’s the problem, why couldn’t he confer a partial win” asked Whitnum who claims the five year battle was an exercise in futility.”

“It is a testament to the power of the Jewish Community,” said Whitnum who claims that Judge Underhill repeatedly refused to allow the deposition, for four years, of two materials witnesses who happen to be the most powerful members of the Jewish Community in Connecticut: Pamela Ehrenkranz of the United Jewish Appeal and Rabbi Sklarz. It was the subject of three Motions to Disqualify to which Underhill refused to step down.

Whitnum believes the most controversial aspect of the case was her fourth argument that a municipality allowing a flag raising and celebration of Israel’s birth is a glorification of Zionism (not Judaism).  And that the values of the 70-year-old political movement Zionism are contrary to American  values.

“There are 3.5 million people in Israel who are not citizen of the country where they were born because they were not born Jewish,” said Whitnum  “That is contrary to our values, and our hypocrisy makes us a terrorist target.”  

Whitnum sought standing to make the argument that The Town of Greenwich by glorifying Zionism make her and all Americans unsafe.  Whitnum using mainly cause-and-effect environmental case law, argued that the proximity of Greenwich to the World Trade Center bombing, and the high casualties Greenwich suffered, was a good enough reason to confer standing.  For Whitnum, the intellectual argument was a challenged she truly wanted.   

“For my country, I was ready to make my case to a jury,” said Whitnum. “I was going to quote everyone from President Carter to Richard Clark to Osama bin Laden to Prime Minister Olmert.”

“I believed this to be an “Inherit the Wind” argument of our day,” said Whitnum. “I expected AIPAC to send lawyers from their member organization the ADL (Anti-Defamation-League) to show up against me.  I was ready. Bring it on, I wanted to engage in the argument for my country as I truly believe we are on a collision course with destiny if we do not address this issue.”  

Underhill disagreed stating it was an argument best left for the United States Congress.  Whitnum replied, “I stated in the Memorandum and at the hearing that because of the power of AIPAC in our Congress the discussion would never happen there. I employed the “if not me then who” argument which was based on the following federal case law:   

“it can be argued that if [someone with a generalized grievance] is not permitted to litigate this issue, no one can do so.” Richardson, 418 U.S. at 179. 

Underhill didn’t agree and he dismissed the case.  Whitnum may still have her chance if the US Supreme remands.

Whitnum is a 2018 democratic candidate for governor whose stated mission is to clean the Connecticut Judiciary.   ###