By: Progress for Westhampton Beach
The settlement approved by the Board of Trustees tonight specifically did not recognize or endorse a religion or religious boundary.
Robert G. Sugarman, attorney for the East End Eruv Association, wanted the Village Trustees to create a religious boundary by issuing a proclamation. In a letter to the Village Board of Trustees dated October 19, 2008, he said:
"REFUSING TO GRANT A PETITION TO ISSUE THE PROCLAMATION WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF THE FREE EXERCISE AND CIVIL RIGHTS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE HAMPTON SYNAGOGUE." Robert G. Sugarman
This was completely wrong. In essence he was saying “You, Board of Trustees, must say this, you must proclaim this, if you don’t you are violating our civil rights.” The government you elected has the right to say, or not to say, what it wants. See Who Said That?
In that same letter Mr. Sugarman offered:
“[I]in order for an eruv to be valid. First, there must be a proclamation delineating and “renting” the area for use as an eruv from a public official whose jurisdiction includes the area in which the eruv is to be constructed…. Second, the physical construction of the eruv must comply with the requirements of Jewish law. If either of these requirements is not met, the eruv would not be valid.”
The Board of Trustees did not issue the proclamation and three years later in January of 2011 the federal law suit was started.
The Board of Trustees had a proper understanding that it had no business issuing a proclamation or “renting” the entirety of village property to any religious sect.
JPOE understood this too and sought to intervene in the federal case. Judge Leonard Wexler denied that request and said the Village of Westhampton Beach would adequately represent JPOE’s interests. JPOE appealed the denial to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did not direct the village to issue a proclamation or to lease property to the Plaintiffs. In the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals the court only considered the nature of the pole attachments that LIPA was going to permit on its utility poles. It was represented to that court that the only things to be attached to the utility poles are:
“nearly invisible wires and staves that do not contain any overtly religious features to distinguish them to the casual observer as any different from strips of material that might be attached to utility poles for secular purposes.”
The 2nd Circuit held that something you can not find does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
This brings us to the final resolution of the federal litigation.
The settlement agreement that has already been signed by the East End Eruv Association and that has now been approved by the board of trustees does not use any religious terminology. This avoids confusion.
This settlement agreement specifically states there is no recognition or endorsement of any religion or religious boundary by the Village of Westhampton Beach. See settlement agreement at paragraph 14.
Of course, there is no regulating what anyone wishes to think or wants to believe. That has never been the business of government, at least not in the United States.
The Board of Trustees has fulfilled its duty to make certain that it has not favored any religious sect over another. Case closed.
More on this evening’s meeting to follow…