Wednesday, January 07, 2015

2nd Circuit Upholds Eruv Against Establishment Clause Attack

In Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach v. Village of Westhampton Beach, (2d Cir., Jan. 6, 2015), the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Long Island Power Authority did not violate the Establishment Clause when it entered a licensing agreement permitting a Jewish organization to attach inconspicuous staves (known as lechis) to utility poles in order to create an eruv. Applying the Lemon test, the court said in part:
Neutral accommodation of religious practice qualifies as a secular purpose under Lemon.... No reasonable observer who notices the strips on LIPA utility poles would draw the conclusion that a state actor is thereby endorsing religion.
Newsday reports on the decision.