Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.
Back to Global Spotlight

Meir Soloveichik

Commissioner, State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights

Meir Soloveichik is an orthodox rabbi and professor of Judaic studies at Yeshiva University. He has ties to influential anti-abortion and anti-birth control groups including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and The Witherspoon Institute. Soloveichik has repeatedly argued against the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit and opposes marriage for same-sex couples  individuals.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

From his seat on the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, Soloveichik is able to take his anti-reproductive rights views into the realm of international policymaking.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

Yeshiva University

  • Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies
  • Director of the Zahava and Moshael J. Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Rabbi, Congregation Shearith Israel, 2013 – Present

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Robert P. George: Robert P. George is an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion Princeton professor who Soloveichik (a Princeton alum) has described as a mentor. George and Soloveichik spoke on a panel on religious freedom together. George has authored multiple discriminatory pieces of legislation in attempts to ban same-sex marriage; he has also condemned abortion as an act of “gross and manifest evil.” George reportedly played a large role in designing the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, where Soloveichik is a commissioner.

HIGHLIGHTS

Soloveichik Lauded Praise On An Anti-LGBTQ Book Authored By Robert P. George Entitled “What Is Marriage? Man And Woman: A Defense”

In His Praise For The Book, Soloveichik Called The Institution Of Marriage As Between Heterosexual Individuals. “What Is Marriage? is the most insightful, eloquent, and influential defense of marriage as it has been historically and rightly understood. People of all traditions—and everyone who cares about the future of this central and sacred social institution—owe Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George an extraordinary debt.” [Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, nomblog.com, 11/8/12]

THE WHOLE STORY

Soloveichik Was Appointed To The Commission On Unalienable Rights, Which Has Sparked Concern Among Human Rights Activists, In 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Appointed Soloveichik To The Newly-Formed Commission On Unalienable Rights In 2019. “The definition of human rights has ‘lost focus,’ according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told reporters Monday that he's launching a new advisory committee to ‘review the role of human rights in American public policy.’ He announced the new "Unalienable Rights" commission in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday… The panel will be chaired by Harvard Professor and Human Rights scholar Mary Ann Glendon and will include Russell Berman, Peter Berkowitz, Paolo Carozza, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Jacqueline Rivers, Kiron Skinner, Meir Soloveichik, Katrina Lantos Swett, Christopher Tollefsen and David Tse-Chien Pan, and F. Cartwrite Weiland.” [CBS News, 7/8/19]

The Commission On Unalienable Rights Was Announced In May 2019 And Launched In July 2019

In Its May 2019 Announcement Of The New Commission, The State Department Noted It Will Have Advisory Powers. “The State Department recently published a brief, enigmatic notice announcing the formation of a new Commission on Unalienable Rights. With a modest budget of $385,074 and merely advisory powers, the commission received little attention beyond head-scratching over its strange name. Yet the significance of the endeavor should not be overlooked. It puts the government’s imprimatur on an assault upon one of the cornerstones of modern liberalism: international human rights. According to the commission’s draft charter, its job will be to explore ‘reforms of human rights discourse where it has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights’.” [Washington Post, 6/14/19]

The State Department Formally Launched The Commission In July 2019. “The State Department will formally launch on Monday an advisory commission on human rights that has engendered controversy since it was proposed.” [Washington Post, 7/8/19]

Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Coopted Human Rights-Based Language To Formally Launch State’s “Commission On Unalienable Rights.” “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday unveiled a new Commission on Unalienable Rights, a panel he said is aimed at providing him with ‘an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy.’… In remarks at the State Department on Monday, Pompeo noted that “words like ‘rights’ can be used by good or evil,” decrying how some have ‘hijacked’ human rights rhetoric to be used for ‘dubious or malignant purposes.’” [Politico, 7/8/19]

The Commission On Unalienable Rights Champions “Traditional Values” Using Human Rights As A Justification — Despite The Trump Administration’s Consistent Efforts To Undermine Human Rights

The Trump Administration Has Not Supported International Human Rights — Yet Tries To Use The New Commission And Rights-Based Language To Achieve Their Preferred Policies. “Donald Trump is not known as a supporter of international human rights. However, late last week, the Trump State Department announced a new Commission on Unalienable Rights to provide advice and recommendations regarding international human rights policy. Advocacy NGOs are likely to be unhappy, as the commission is likely to attack many of their preferred policies, using human rights — albeit a very different set of rights than most activists prefer — as a justification.” [Washington Post, 6/6/19]

The New Commission Will Likely Prioritize “Natural Family” And “Traditional Values” To Limit Reproductive Rights, Gun Control, And Immigration. “The Trump Commission on Unalienable Rights is likely to champion the “natural family” and “traditional values.”… The United States has sought to purge all references to ‘sexual and reproductive health’ at the United Nations since 2017. This term, favored by mainstream human rights activists, is viewed by conservatives as code for abortion, gay and transgender rights, as well as other acts or identities that they see as ‘unnatural.’…Another likely commission favorite will be the right to individual self-defense as a justification for opposing international and domestic gun control… Natural rights could also be used to justify a tougher stance on immigration, as the expression of the sovereign right of a people to protect its territorial integrity and established culture. This clashes with a long-standing concern of human rights groups, the rights of immigrants and refugees. But it jibes well with the sentiments of nationalist movements in Europe and elsewhere, who often promote the rights of majorities.” [Washington Post, 6/6/19]

Human Rights Groups Focusing On LGBTQ Rights Have Decried The Commission And Its Appointees, Including Soloveichik

GLAAD: The Commission Is A “Farce.” “Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of GLAAD, called the commission a ‘farce’ and accused the Trump administration of ‘knowingly appointing activists who have made careers out of fighting against LGBTQ progress and is now providing them an opportunity to export their anti-LGBTQ activism around the world through the U.S. State Department.’” [NBC News, 7/10/19]

GLAAD Flagged Soloveichik As An Anti-Marriage Equality Advocate. “Among the members flagged by GLAAD are… Meir Soloveichik, who in 2012 wrote in a blurb that an anti-LGBTQ book was an ‘influential defense of marriage as it has been historically and rightly understood’.” [NBC News, 7/10/19]

Soloveichik Has Publicly Spoken Out Against ACA’s Birth Control Benefit

Soloveichik Has Criticized The Birth Control Benefit As A Violation Of Religious Freedom. “‘The putative accommodation is no accommodation at all,’ said the rabbi, Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City. ‘Religious organizations would still be obligated to provide employees with an insurance policy that facilitates acts violating the organization’s religious tenets.’” [New York Times, 2/14/12]

Soloveichik Explained In An Interview That He Thought The Birth Control Benefit Was A Threat To Religious Liberty. “I testified in Congress regarding the (Affordable Care Act's contraception) mandate, which I thought was a threat to religious liberty because of how it was being applied at the time.” [Deseret News, 5/17/18]

Soloveichik Praised President Trump And Vice President Pence For Their Work Rolling Back The Birth Control Benefit

When Asked If He Was Pleased With The Trump-Pence Administration’s Approach To Religious Freedom, Soloveichik Answered, “Absolutely,” And That He Was “Delighted” Regarding Their Efforts To Roll Back The Birth Control Benefit. “Absolutely. I was certainly delighted to hear of their decision to alter the contraception mandate to obviate religious liberty concerns.” [Deseret News, 5/17/18]

Soloveichik Has Been Recognized For His Efforts Surrounding “Conscience Rights” By Anti-Abortion Extremist Groups Including The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty

He Was Awarded The 2018 Canterbury Medal By The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, An Anti-Abortion Extremist Group. “Rabbi Soloveichik, 40, stands out because of his sense of history. But the decision to award him the 2018 Canterbury Medal, an honor given to someone who advances the cause of conscience rights, has more to do with his future potential, according to Bill Mumma, CEO and board chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which sponsors the annual award… "It is one of the great honors of my life to be affiliated with what Becket does," [Soloveichik] said.” [Deseret News, 5/17/18]

The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty Is Best-Known For Its Efforts To Roll Back The ACA’s Birth Control Benefit, Including Through The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case

Becket Has Defended Plaintiffs Protesting That They Provide Their Employees With Health Insurance Coverage For Contraception As Mandated By The ACA. “Becket broke onto the national scene thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. Its clients Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school, and Catholic organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor and Eternal Word Television Network, are among the 319 plaintiffs claiming the law’s requirement to provide female employees with insurance plans that include payment for various contraceptives violates religious freedom.” [TIME, 10/7/14]

Becket Represented Hobby Lobby In The Supreme Court Case That Ruled The Corporation Would Be Exempt From The ACA’s Birth Control Benefit. “The Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby decision has thrust a once little-known boutique law firm into the center of a growing conservative movement to make faith-based exemptions as potent a legal tool as free speech has been for liberals. The tiny Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was the legal power behind the Supreme Court’s decision last month to extend religious rights to corporations for the first time… In the Hobby Lobby decision, the justices ruled that the religious owners of the chain of craft stores do not have to provide full contraceptive coverage for female workers as required under the Affordable Care Act. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision carried ‘startling breadth’ and would open the door for other religious-minded businesses to seek exemptions from federal laws.” [Washington Post, 7/20/14]

Soloveichik Spoke On A 2017 Anti-LGBTQ Panel Sponsored By An Extremist Group In Which He Equated LGBTQ Sexual Orientations And Secularity To Paganism

Soloveichik Spoke On A 2017 Panel To Defend The “Sanctity” Of Heterosexual Marriage. “In the face of consistent attacks against the understanding and practice of traditional marriage by a litany of sources, including Hollywood, media and government, Cardinal Dolan’s prescription for countering the prevailing cultural climate involves faith and fortitude. ‘We are not alone in our battle to defend the sanctity of marriage. God is on our side,’ Cardinal Dolan said in his remarks at an interfaith evening in defense of marriage March 9… Also making presentations at the Manhattan gathering were Elder David A. Bednar of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Congregation Sheirith Israel in Manhattan, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States.” [Catholic New York, 3/15/17]

Soloveichik Fear-Mongered The Present-Day Threat Of “Paganism” As Characterized By The Rise Of Secularism And Non-“Traditional” Sexuality. “In the question period following the formal presentations, Cardinal Dolan and Rabbi Soloveichik addressed the rise of secularism in today’s society. ‘A lot of what we are experiencing is actually a return of a world view that is a religion in its own right,’ the rabbi explained. ‘It is paganism.’ Paganism, the rabbi said, is marked by the divinization of nature and a wholly different approach to sexuality than traditional mores.” [Catholic New York, 3/15/17]

The 2017 Event Soloveichik Spoke At Was Sponsored By The Witherspoon Institute, An Ultra-Right Wing, Anti-LGBTQ, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Feminist Think Tank

The 2017 Event That Soloveichik Spoke At Was Sponsored By The Witherspoon Institute. “The event was sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute, an independent research center that works to enhance public understanding of the moral foundations of free and democratic societies.” [Catholic New York, 3/15/17]

The Witherspoon Institute Is Anti-LGBTQ And Believes Marriages Should Only Be Heterosexual. “The second pillar of a decent society is the institution of the family, which is built upon the comprehensive sexual union of man and woman. No other institution can top the family’s ability to transmit what is pivotal—character formation, values, virtues, and enduring love—to each new generation.” [Public Discourse, 2019]

Witherspoon’s Center On Religion and Constitution Takes The Position That All Abortions Are “Tragic Wrongs.” “It is by now a familiar question from liberal journalists when interviewing pro-life candidates: ‘You’re against all abortions — what about in cases of rape and incest?’ Pro-lifers need to learn how to answer this question, because they can always expect it. The question tugs at heartstrings and aims at exposing a weakness. The appeal to compassion for rape and incest victims must be answered with real compassion for both parties in any pregnancy — mother and child. As for the politics of it, a pro-lifer can always say, ‘I am for any legislation that reduces the number of abortions and legally restricts a grave injustice. If that means a bill that eliminates most abortions that are legal now but makes an exception for rape and incest, I’m for it. But that doesn’t mean I’m for the exception. Every abortion is a tragic wrong, and we must work to restore respect for the sanctity of every life, from conception to natural death, no matter what the circumstances.’” [National Review, 8/21/12]

The Editor Of The Witherspoon Institute’s Journal, The Public Discourse, Published A Glowing Review On A Book About The “Takedown Of Contemporary Feminism” And Criticizes The Second-Wave Feminist Movement’s “Stigmatization Of Full-Time Motherhood.” “Sadly, that hasn’t stopped [The Feminist Mystique’s] message—in particular, its stigmatization of full-time motherhood and exaltation of paid work outside the home—from permeating and shaping our culture. After examining the (largely negative) impact of other influential feminists, Charen spends several chapters covering topics that will be familiar to readers of Public Discourse: the contemporary quest to abolish sex differences, the widespread conflation of pro-woman with pro-abortion ideals, the rise of the hook-up culture, and what Charen calls ‘the campus rape mess.’ Here Charen is characteristically unafraid of political incorrectness. She decries the ‘kangaroo courts erected by universities’ that ‘have dispensed with sacred rights protecting the accused, including the right to be represented by counsel, the right to confront witnesses, and the presumption of innocence.’” [Public Discourse, 1/25/19]

Soloveichik Also Has Strong Ties To Robert P. George, An Influential Anti-LGBTQ, Anti-Abortion Ideologue

Soloveichik Has Described Robert P. George As A Mentor. “‘It is one of the great honors of my life to be affiliated with what Becket does,’ [Soloveichik]  said. Past Canterbury medalists include now-President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mitt and Ann Romney, and Robert George, a legal scholar whom the rabbi describes as a mentor.” [Deseret News, 5/17/18]

George And Soloveichik Spoke On A Panel Together In Which George Claimed That Religious Expression Is “Under Constant Threat From The Tyranny Of Secular Progressivism”

George And Soloveichik Spoke On The January 2020 Panel Together To Express That Religious Expression Is Under Attack. “Free religious expression in American higher education is under constant threat from the tyranny of secular progressivism, a leading scholar of religious liberty said Jan. 12. Robert P. George, Princeton University’s McCormick professor of jurisprudence and a former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, spoke at a forum on the religious formation of ‘America’s rising generation’ with Orthodox Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, one of his former students. The event was sponsored by the Tikvah Foundation in partnership with the Museum of the Bible… The Jan. 12 event was co-sponsored with the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Robert P. George Initiative on Faith, Ethics and Public Policy, which is part of the Baylor University in Washington program.” [CatholicPhilly.clom, 1/14/20]

As A Reminder, George Is Anti-LGBTQ And Supports Forcing Rape Survivors To Carry Pregnancies To Term

George Authored Multiple Discriminatory Pieces Of Legislation In Attempts To Ban Same-Sex Marriage. “George co-authored the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2001, which would have written discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. And in 2004, he helped draft another discriminatory amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He wrote the “Manhattan Declaration,” a 4,700-word document denouncing not just same-sex marriage, but civil unions or any relationship recognition measure.” [hrc.org, 3/28/19]

George Has Condemned Abortion As An Act Of “Gross And Manifest Evil”

[Robert P. George Facebook, 1/23/15, accessed 6/27/19]

George Has Written That Even In Cases Of Rape, The Fetus Is Not Doing Harm To A Mother And Therefore “The Burden Of Carrying The Baby, For All Its Distinctness, Is Significantly Less Than The Harm The Baby Would Suffer By Being Killed.” [The Wrong Of Abortion, 2005, coauthored by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George]

Related Media

See More