Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Jersey Rabbi Claims Unconstitutional Surveillance

A release from the Rutherford Institute says it has filed suit in a New Jersey federal district court on behalf of a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi who claims that police are conducting illegal surveillance of his home in retaliation for his filing a RLUIPA claim against the Township of Freehold. Rabbi Avrom Bernstein lives in an area zoned only for residential dwellings. On the Sabbath and certain holidays, Rabbi Bernstein and guests he invites hold worship services in the rabbi's living room. Earlier this year, the Township notified Bernstein that these gatherings violated zoning rules, and issued a summons charging him with illegally operating a house of worship. Bernstein responded with a state court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Township's actions. Then, allegedly in retaliation, the Township set up a camera across from Bernstein's home to monitor the number of individuals who visit for Sabbath and holidays. The suit claims that the surveillance has chilled the free exercise rights of Bernstein and his guests, has impaired the use of property and interferes with Bernstein's access to the courts.