The filed a lawsuit against the , the Long Island Power Authority and Verizon on July 30, claiming that if a symbolic religious boundary, known as an eruv is erected, it will be a direct violation of the First Amendment.
In the lawsuit, the organization, headed up by Arnold Sheiffer, says that while the East End Eruv Association claims that an eruv, if erected, will be "nearly invisible," it will "be a constant and ever-present symbol, message and reminder to the community at large that the secular public spaces in the village have been transformed for religious use and identity."
The lawsuit goes on to ask the courts to declare that the use of public property for an eruv is a violation of the Establishment Cause of the First Amendment.
It is the same argument the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach made to the in January after the East End Eruv Association submitted an under the village's sign ordinance to install lechis, or a
On May 18, Quogue officials, in a 5-page decision, denied the application, essentially agreeing with the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach. The decision read, "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. On that basis, denial of the application is appropriate."
The East End Eruv Association has yet to file an official application with the Village of Westhampton Beach requesting an eruv since there is technically no ordinance to file under. The association, has, however reached out to the village to find a solution as requested by Judge Leonard D. Wexler of the United States District Court.
Judge Wexler suggested the association appeal to Westhampton Beach as part of an injunction that was requested through a civil suit filed by the East End Eruv Association in January 2011.
That suit, which is still in the courts, claims that the Villages of Westhampton Beach, Quogue and the Town of Southampton have violated the constitutional rights of the East End Eruv Association. And just the week, Robert Sugarman, attorney for the East End Eruv Association, served the Village of Quogue with an injunction, which asks the judge to overturn Quogue's May decision.
A declaration against the Village of Westhampton Beach was also filed by the association this week, arguing that there is no state or local law that prevents the association from erecting the eruv in the village.
The Village of Westhampton Beach has maintained, however, according to Brian S. Sokoloff, attorney for Westhampton Beach, that "LIPA and Verizon are not allowed, by state law, to sublicense their poles for religious symbols" and to allow such would open up the village to discrimination suits.
He said, "if Verizon and LIPA put up religious symbols on polls in the village, the village could be sued by people that feel like second class citizens — you can’t put up a cross on village hall."
In addition, Sokoloff said state law prohibits the use of LIPA and Verizon's polls for anything other than what they were designed for.
Of the suit filed by the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach, Sokoloff said that they filed the suit because the judge in the first case ruled against allowing them to take part as an interested party.
He said, "If you can’t get in the case through the front door then you use the back door."
In a statement, Sheiffer confirmed: "We took this action because our members felt that our rights should be represented and protected in the ongoing legal proceedings."
Sugarman, however, argues that the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach do not have a place in the case.
He said, "The East End Eruv Association does not believe there is any merit in the claims made in this new lawsuit and we are considering our various options."
Calls to LIPA and Verizon for comment were not immediately returned.