The East End Eruv Association issued a press release Wednesday afternoon saying that it has filed lawsuits against the Village of Quogue, the Village of Westhampton Beach and the Town of Southampton. The association is arguing that their constitutional and civil rights have been violated in their effort to create a symbolic eruv boundary around the municipalities.
“Our efforts for rational discussion and fair treatment have been met with harsh words and obvious discrimination,” said Marvin Tenzer, president EEEA in the release. “These villages and town are violating our constitutional and civic rights by engaging in an active campaign to obstruct our ability to practice our religion.”
As a result, according to the release, EEEA filed legal papers in the Federal US Eastern District Court stating that the “local governments have prevented private efforts to put a series of small markings on local telephone and utility poles to form the eruv.”
The battle over the eruv, which would allow Torah-observant Orthodox Jews to push strollers and engage in tasks otherwise not allowed on the Sabbath, became more contentious, in Nov., when the EEEA asked the Long Island Power Authority and Verizon for use of their poles to install lichis that would mark the eruv boundary.
LIPA and Verizon agreed to the installation of the lichis; however, local municipalities argued that the poles are within their right of way and EEEA must obtain proper permits from them to construct the eruv boundary.
To date, all three municipalities say that despite requests, they have received no such application from EEEA.
Conrad Teller, mayor of the Village of Westhampton Beach, said that the village has not discriminated against EEEA.
“I haven’t done anything. We have not intentionally done anything,” he said. “They have not filed anything with us. There is nothing from stopping them from doing that.”
When asked about the lawsuit specifically, Teller says he was unaware that the village was being sued.
“We have not been served yet,” he said.
Peter Sartorius, mayor of Quogue Village said Quogue has also not yet been served. Until it is, he said he could not make a comment.
EEEA has argued that permits from the town are not necessary and that its private agreements with LIPA and Verizon should have allowed them to install the lichis.
“Their thinly veiled argument do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny and we are confident that they will not hold up to judicial review,” said Robert G. Sugarman of Weil, Gotshal and Manges, pro bono council to EEEA.
Town of Southampton officials were unavailable for comment as of press time.