The U.S. Supreme Court last week formally declined to hear an appeal on the conviction of former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin.
The decision shocked the worldwide Orthodox Jewish community, which has been petitioning for the appeal for months.
Rubashkin, 52, was convicted in 2009 on 86 counts of financial misconduct and sentenced to 27 years in prison. In his request to the Supreme Court, Rubashkin's attorneys claimed the lengthy sentence violated federal sentencing laws for a first-time non-violent offender.
The conviction has been questioned altogether by numerous legal authorities who say the judge in the case, Justice Linda Reade, should have recused herself due to a conflict of interest. Reade had met with investigators to plan logistical details of an immigration raid at the meat packing plant prior to hearing the case in court.
Agudath Israel of America said it was “deeply saddened” by the high court's refusal to hear the appeal.
"Serious questions have been aised as to the fundamental fairness of his trial and sentence, and he surely deserved a full hearing from our nation's highest court,” the organization said in its statement. “It is noteworthy that a broad and distinguished array of legal scholars and experts have declared the case to be a miscarriage of justice. As such, the justices have sadly squandered an opportunity to right a terrible wrong.”
The case has been the focus of laser-sharp attention in the Orthodox Jewish world, with an ongoing fundraising campaign to cover the legal fees that have accrued. Rabbinical and other community leaders have spoken out against the unusual and excessively harsh sentence Rubashkin received, while not defending any wrongdoing that may have occurred.
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Rubashkin himself wrote from prison to his family, “What is clear and for sure is that Hashem will send His help very quickly and bring me home to you. We have bitachon (faith) in Hashem in our time of need,” he wrote, adding that true, deep trust in the One Above means accepting His ways no matter how difficult the circumstances may appear. “Being in G-d's Hands is the only Hands I want to be in, and Hashem will pull me out of the pit I am in and bring me home right away,” he wrote.