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Dec 28, 2012 4:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Decision On Religious Boundary Lawsuits Could Come This Year

Jan 19, 2013 2:35 PM

In response, the EEEA, in January 2012, filed its first application that seeks the creation of an eruv in Quogue. But after several months of public hearings, trustees in that village unanimously denied the application in May on grounds that the eruv’s establishment would violate the rights of those who would not benefit from it.

In its decision, the Quogue Village Board also states that it does not permit signs, posters and other advertisements in the village’s rights of way and cannot make an exception in this instance. The decision reads, in part: “We despair of identifying any principled distinction between both the device and the messages imparted by the lechis and many other types of signs and other things that imaginative people have sought and could seek to place in our rights of ways. We do not wish to be in a position of having to make distinctions without a clear basis for doing so or to expose the Village to claims of discriminatory treatment, expensive litigation, and potential liability for allowing one type of device and message and not another.”

Officials representing the organization threatened to sue Quogue over its denial but have not taken any such action yet; Mr. Sugarman said a suit is still in the works. The EEEA, meanwhile, never filed a similar application with Westhampton Beach, because representatives said that there is no local law that prohibits the lechis there.

But in September, the EEEA filed a request with Southampton Town, asking that it permit to installation of lechis on Quiogue. That request was denied by the Town Board.

On February 3, 2012—approximately three weeks after filing its application with Quogue Village—the EEEA amended its original lawsuit, dropping the town supervisor, both village mayors and all the trustees and town council members from the list of defendants. The other key change is that the word “Orthodox” Jew was replaced with “Observant” Jew in the amended litigation.

Second Lawsuit

Verizon and LIPA became embroiled in the litigation when the utilities jointly filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on January 18, 2011, that names Westhampton Beach and Quogue villages, as well as Southampton Town, as defendants. The utilities are arguing that, in 2010, they entered into private contracts with the EEEA, allowing it to install the lechis on their utility poles, but that the three municipalities have threatened to fine them if the EEEA is allowed to do so. As part of their suit, Verizon and LIPA are asking that the court rule that the town and village cannot fine the utilities for allowing the installation.

About 18 months later—on July 9, 2012—the two villages and town filed a countersuit against Verizon and LIPA, charging that the utilities lack the authority to approve an eruv within their municipalities. The countersuit also demands that the original suit filed by LIPA and Verizon be dismissed and asks that the court bar both from issuing licenses for the lechis.

Both the original suit and the countersuit are still pending, though Mr. Sokoloff said he hopes that both will be settled later this month. He added that his clients object to the fact that the utility companies believe they can approve such a boundary without also seeking permission from the villages and town.

Mr. Teller, like his counterpart in Quogue, also declined to discuss the matter, citing the ongoing litigation.

“It is a religious matter as far as I am concerned,” he said. “I have no comment.”

Third Lawsuit

The third and final lawsuit was filed on July 30, 2012, also in U.S. District Court, by a group called the Jewish People For The Betterment of Westhampton Beach, commonly referred to as Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, or JPOE. Members of the group, some of whom attend the synagogue in Westhampton Beach, are suing the Village of Westhampton Beach, the EEEA, Verizon and LIPA because they do not want to live in a community where government is being asked to endorse one religion over another. When asked immediately after filing the suit why the village was included as a defendant, representatives of the group said they wanted to ensure that their voice was being heard in the municipality. They are also alleging that the creation of an eruv would serve no secular purpose in the village.

The JPOE is asking for the court to rule that the establishment of an eruv on public property, including utility poles, violates the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. The establishment clause prohibits the creation of a national religion for the United States, and does not allow government to make rules that favor one religion over another.

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"mostly invisible" is that like a little pregnant?
By circaWHB (9), Westhampton Beach on Jan 18, 13 12:47 PM
"mostly invisible" is that like a little pregnant?
By circaWHB (9), Westhampton Beach on Jan 18, 13 12:48 PM
mostly ignorant, is that like a little stupid?
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 18, 13 1:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
Seperation of church and state is the law of the land, for EVERYONE, there are none above the law.
By bigfresh (4655), north sea on Jan 18, 13 5:19 PM
Well, thats' nice in hypothesis.
By Mr. Z (11814), North Sea on Jan 18, 13 8:52 PM
LIPA is a state entity, and owns a majority share of the utility poles.

Here's where I "turn poeple off" ": Isn't religion really just a cheap way to explain science?

Before the periodic table, there was Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and later Aether.

WE'VE GOT A NEW DEMI-GOD!! You're gonna' love 'im!!!
Jan 18, 13 8:49 PM appended by Mr. Z
My Agnosticism is not a lack of faith. It's a lack of faith in religion. I have chosen to have faith in knowledge, and emipirical data, as well as faith in humanity. Do you need faith to believe in proving theory? Absolutely. Faith is not about religion. It's about hope. Just for reference...
By Mr. Z (11814), North Sea on Jan 18, 13 8:49 PM
I'd agree that Religion to fill holes in science is absurd. Read "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". That in effect is the essence of the book.

Yet logic woks here. If you found a rock would you say it was divinely placed at that spot? No. Two rocks in a row? No. A string of rocks in a row..maybe but most likely not because our observation is that rocks are usually random and perhaps there was a hand that laid these in a line. What is that line went alway around the earth. ...more
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 19, 13 9:16 AM
Well, there is this thing called a glacial moraine.

I've seen the wind roll snowballs.

Nature is full of "odd" behavior...
By Mr. Z (11814), North Sea on Jan 21, 13 9:48 PM
Just for the record I am against any stupid religious "law". Asked once what I gave up for Lent, I responded "religions with dietary restrictions".

To have a rule that you go through all these machinations to basically subvert the rule is silly. This reeks of a bunch of 5 year olds in clubhouse who make rules to keep people out but make exceptions to justify what they do and with whom they do it.

Harsh...maybe so. But I can't wait to see the first stroller being pushed from ...more
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 19, 13 9:21 AM
God created Man and Woman and all was well with the world.....Then they made religion. The theory of the Eruv is like the Second Amendment. Alot got lost in translation over the centuries.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jan 19, 13 10:53 AM
Actually, my understanding is that the eruv was created in rabbinical law, not in the Talmud so it probably does not date back "over the centuries". Can someone in the know tell us the circumstances involved in establishing the first eruv and how it has progressed to where we are today?
By VOS (1238), WHB on Jan 19, 13 11:53 AM
so it was created by a mere mortal, not God ? Read jewish history. This law stems from the building of one of the original temples, which, by the by, wasn't last year. There are volumes written about the Eruv. As a non-Jew, I find Jewish history fascinating and in many ways relevant to life today. That said, erecting Eruvs on telephone poles is a stretch. Consider if you will, distributing a map to the faithful with the boundries delineated. Gets the same job done without the controversy. Everybody ...more
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jan 19, 13 3:32 PM
"Dad, why do adults fight over little symbols on telephone poles?"
"Because we are stupid, son."
"Oh, that's what I thought. Can we get ice cream now?"
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Jan 19, 13 12:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Dad. What happens when the shoe is on the other foot? Oh thats another story!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jan 19, 13 4:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
This made me giggle :)
By Terbear (77), Southampton on Jan 26, 13 5:47 PM
The attorneys' fees for this entire situation to be resolved could be staggering over the next decade [sic].

Do the various state and federal courts have the authority to require that the parties post a bond for all costs and fees if they lose?

Is there a motion in any court to combine all cases in one venue (normally this would be a federal court)?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 19, 13 12:55 PM
"Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach" has filed a federal lawsuit to prohibit the eruv on constitutional grounds. While I cannot read the article, I assume that it refers only to to state lawsuits filed by E3A against Quogue and Westhampton Beach. Being a superior court, the federal suit is the only meaningful one. Nothing will happen until IT is decided, probably on appeal.
By highhatsize (4213), East Quogue on Jan 19, 13 7:50 PM
Push or pull something in defiance of The Almighty in front of MY house on the Sabbath? Better think twice, I've got water balloons.
By loading... (599), quiogue on Jan 23, 13 9:35 AM
better fill them on Friday
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 25, 13 9:24 AM
um, no....Friday is holy to Pastafarians!
By loading... (599), quiogue on Jan 25, 13 7:25 PM
I thought Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day...
By Mr. Z (11814), North Sea on Jan 25, 13 7:29 PM
Eruv is just an excuse to do stuff your religion says you shouldn't do. In my apartment building in NYC, one of the many home networks that came up was "eruv (followed by numbers)" I mean come on. You want to be super-duper-orthodox religious person but you need to be on the Internet on the sabbath? Please. If you want to observe sabbath rules, then observe sabbath rules. I have inlaws who are orthodox -- not ultra orthodox. They obey sabbath rules because that's part of their identity. They don't ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Jan 27, 13 12:35 AM