David Yerushalmi

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David Yerushalmi (born 1956) is a lawyer and a political activist who is the driving law behind the anti-sharia movement in the United States.[1] Along with Robert Muise, he is co-founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center. He is also General Counsel to the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., a national security think tank founded by Frank Gaffney.


Yerushalmi graduated from Arizona State University College of Law. He received a B.S. in public policy studies and criminal justice. Yerushalmi also received his Juris Doctorate in 1984.


Public Policy[edit]

In the 1990s, Yerushalmi was Of Counsel and Senior Policy Research Director for the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli free-market think tank with offices in Jerusalem and Washington, D.C..[2] Yerushalmi published an article on sharia-compliant finance Islamic law as a "Black Box" in the Utah Law Review (2008, Issue 3).[3] Yerushalmi has no formal training in Sharia law.[4]

American Laws for American Courts[edit]

Yerushalmi is the principal drafter of the American Laws for American Courts model legislation, which is an effort to prevent courts from taking foreign or international law into account; the legislation is aimed at banning sharia, Muslim religious law. The legislation has been enacted into law in several states including Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma. [5]

The American Bar Association (ABA) generally opposes such legislation proposed by Yerushalmi because it is "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law." Furthermore the ABA states "Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at 'Sharia law' are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence."[6][7]


Dearborn missionaries[edit]

Yerushalmi has been involved in filing several lawsuits against the City of Dearborn, Michigan, in response to treatment of Christian missionaries preaching to Muslims at the city's Arab Festival. Members of one group, Acts 17 Apologetics, had been arrested for disturbance of the peace; a jury acquitted them, and Yerushalmi's suit against the city resulted in the latter settling with a public apology and $300,000 in damages.[8][9] A judge threw out a similar case Yerushalmi had filed the same year on behalf of a group called Bible Believers; Yerushalmi had sued after the group were asked to leave the festival after speaking for over an hour, due to concerns of public safety and order. The case is currently being appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.[10]

Bus advertisement controversies[edit]

Yerushalmi has represented the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an organization founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer—in several legal actions against various transportation authorities around the country. The lawsuits stem from transportation authorities' decision not to run proposed advertisements by AFDI, including one advertisement in Detroit that promotes a website recommending "refuge from Islam."[11]

On January 31, 2012, Yerushalmi's legal group, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (MTA), seeking to have the MTA run an AFDI "pro-Israel / anti-Jihad" bus advertisement.[12] On Friday, July 20, 2012, Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that the MTA violated the First Amendment rights of AFDI when it rejected their advertisement.[13] In July 2012, Judge Engelmayer issued a final ruling, striking down the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York’s (MTA) “no-demeaning speech” restriction and ordering the MTA to display the advertisement. The federal judge’s order converted an earlier preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction, and it declared that the MTA speech regulation violated the First Amendment right to free speech. The judge also awarded FDI nominal damages.[14]

On September 20, the American Freedom Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) after the agency had refused to run similar proposed advertisement. WMATA had refused to run the advertisement “due to the situations happening around the world at this time," referring to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi and other uprisings in the Middle East.[15] On October 5, federal judge Rosemary M. Collyer, sitting in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Law Center's request on behalf of its clients for an injunction to halt WMATA's censorship of the advertisement. Collyer ordered the “Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [to] display Plaintiffs’ advertisement no later than 5 p.m. on October 8, 2012.”[16]

On February 4, 2013, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) notified Yerushalmi that it would accept several proposed “counter-jihad” advertisements submitted by AFLC's client, Pamela Geller. Geller’s proposed advertisements were in response to an advertisement campaign brought by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The CTA had originally rejected Geller’s advertisements after CAIR-Chicago claimed in a “cease and desist” letter that the proposed ads violated CAIR’s trademark and trade dress rights in the mark #MyJihad, which appeared in CAIR’s earlier advertisements.

In a formal response to CAIR-Chicago’s allegations, Yerushalmi sent an email to the CTA on January 13, 2013, which highlighted the "cease and desist" letter’s factual and legal inconsistencies regarding trademark and copyright law. In the email, Yerushalmi also warned the CTA that to reject his client’s advertisements would violate the Constitution and would result in a federal lawsuit. In a letter informing Yerushalmi that the CTA had capitulated and agreed to run his client’s advertisements, Karen G. Seimetz, the CTA’s General Counsel, admitted that the CTA had decided to run the advertisements out of fear of losing in court given AFLC’s prior courtroom victories on behalf of its client in New York and in Washington, D.C[17]

Pamela Gellar defamation case[edit]

Yerushalmi represented anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller in a $10 million defamation lawsuit filed by Omar Tarazi, the lawyer for Rifqa Bary's parents.[18][19] Geller, while blogging about the controversy extensively given her work at the American Freedom Defense Initiative, had criticized Tarazi during the Rifqa Bary litigation, which arose after the 17-year old Rifqa converted from Islam to Christianity and ran away from her Ohio home in the summer of 2009 to take refuge with Christian friends in Florida. Bary had alleged that her father threatened to murder her in an honor killing.[20] The case was settled out of court with both sides claiming victory when Geller agreed to remove the posts from her blog in exchange for the case being dropped. [21]

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act[edit]

On March 23, 2010, Yerushalmi, along with co-counsel Robert Muise, filed the first federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—commonly referred to as "Obamacare" (Thomas More Law Center et al. v. Pres. Obama et al.; see National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius). The case was filed in federal court in Detroit, Michigan on behalf of four Michigan residents who did not have health insurance and who objected to the Act's individual mandate which required them to purchase such insurance. On October 7, 2010, the federal judge ruled against the plaintiffs,[22] but the case was appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.[23] In a split decision (2 to 1), the Sixth Circuit upheld the individual mandate. Yerushalmi and Muise filed the first petition to the U.S. Supreme Court following appellate review, asking the Court to review the case[citation needed]. The attorneys claimed that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the individual mandate provision of the Act, the "government’s takeover of the healthcare industry" would be halted. On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in a 5 to 4 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts siding against Yerushalmi. Yerushalmi and Muise described it as "a political decision".[citation needed]

Constitutional Challenge of the Contraceptive Mandate[edit]

"While we appreciate Judge Block’s thoughtfulness in this case, we do believe he’s made a mistake in not holding this matter in abeyance until the final version of the so-called accommodation is published"

David Yerushalmi, Bloomberg News

On February 15, 2012, Yerushalmi and Muise, of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), along with co-counsel and civil rights attorney Charles S. LiMandri, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Priests for Life, a national, Catholic, pro-life organization based in New York, New York. The case was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block for lack of ripeness because the government stated that the new implementing regulations would not be finalized until August 1, 2013. However, according to Yerushalmi, Priests for Life did secure a stipulation of non-enforcement from the government as a result of AFLC's motion for a preliminary injunction. [24]

Constitutional Challenge to U.S. government's financial bailout of AIG[edit]

Yerushalmi, as co-counsel, filed a federal lawsuit in 2009 against the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, challenging a portion of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that appropriated $40 billion to fund the federal government’s majority ownership interest in AIG. The lawsuit argued that the use of taxpayer dollars to fund Sharia-based loans made by AIG subsidiaries violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. While federal Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff rejected the request by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit, he ultimately granted summary judgment for the government in January 2011, finding that the religious involvement did not achieve the "excessive entanglement" required under earlier rulings. The decision was appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals;[25] on June 1, 2012, the Court of Appeals dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiff did not have standing.[26] On October 12, 2012, Yerushalmi and the American Freedom Law Center filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the appellate court's decision, which the Court denied.

Intellectual property[edit]

In 2011, Yerushalmi won a copyright case in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, on behalf of the anti-abortion Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. The group had been sued by Northland Family Planning Clinic for editing the clinic's video into an anti-abortion video. The court found that this was fair use.[27]

Allegations of racism[edit]

The Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center have described Yerushalmi's views as racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic. He stated in a 2006 essay that “most of the fundamental differences between the races are genetic." Yerushalmi is against politically correct culture that prevents him from questioning why “the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote.” [28] According to the SPLC, Yerushalmi has called blacks “the most murderous of peoples” and reportedly once called for undocumented immigrants to be placed in “special criminal camps,” detained for three years, and then deported. [29] Yerushalmi has denied ever having made racist statements.

In 2011, he was listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of 10 people in the United States' "Anti-Muslim Inner Circle".[30]


  1. ^ Elliott, Andrea (2011-07-30). "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Staff: David Yerushalmi, Of Counsel". Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Yerushalmi, David (2008). "Shari’ah’s "Black Box": Civil Liability and Criminal Exposure Surrounding Shari’ah-Compliant Finance". Utah Law Review 2008 (3): 1019. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Elliott, Andrea (2011-07-30). "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Sacirbey, Omar (17 May 2013). "Anti-Shariah Movement Gains Success". Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130415/OPINION/130419700
  7. ^ http://www.lhrtimes.com/2013/06/05/cair-applauds-missouri-govs-veto-of-anti-islam-bill/
  8. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (24 May 2013). "Dearborn paid Christian group $300,000 to settle lawsuit, record shows". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (6 May 2013). "Dearborn 'regrets' Arab fest arrests, must post apology for 3 years". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Judge tosses Arab Festival lawsuit filed by Christian missionary group
  11. ^ Rice, Stephanie (28 July 2010). "'Anti-Islamic' bus ads appear in major cities". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Klasfeld, Adam (4 April 2012). "Polemic Israel Campaign May Head to New York". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (20 July 2012). "M.T.A. Violated Rights of Group, Judge Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (20 July 2012). "M.T.A. Violated Rights of Group, Judge Says". New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Wilber, Del (20 September 2012). "Pro-Israel group files federal lawsuit against Metro". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Wilber, Del (5 October 2012). "Metro ordered to display pro-Israel ads that it worried might incite violence". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Munro, Neil (4 February 2013). "Lawsuit forces Chicago to accept anti-jihad bus ads". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  18. ^ Gray, Kathy Lynn (7 September 2010). "Bary-case lawyer files $10M defamation lawsuit". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Welsh-Huggins, Andrew (14 October 2010). "Defendants in Lawyer's $10 Million Defamation Suit Cite Free Speech". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Investigative Summary OR-73-1741". Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  21. ^ Welsh-Huggins, Andrew (21 September 2011). "Lawyer vs. blogger dispute settled in Rifqa Bary case". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  22. ^ Gerstein, Josh (11 October 2010). "Federal judge upholds health care law". Politico. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Sack, Kevin (1 June 2011). "Second Appellate Panel Hears Arguments on Health Care Law". New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  24. ^ Jeffrey, Don (Apr 15, 2013). "Priests for Life’s Contraceptive Mandate Suit Dismissed". Bloomberg. 
  25. ^ "American Freedom Law Center Attorneys to Argue Before Federal Appellate Court that AIG Bailout Was Unconstitutional". Press release. American Freedom Law Center. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Northland Family Planning Clinic Inc v. Center for Bio-Ethical Reform et al
  28. ^ Elliott, Andrea (30 July 2011). "David Yerushalmi, the Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/david-yerushalmi#.UalaAKVfmCI
  30. ^ The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle, Intelligence Report, Summer 2011, Issue Number: 142