Fair Housing Law

Housing Law Doesn’t Protect Right to Mezuzah, Appeals Court Rules

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A federal appeals court has ruled that the Fair Housing Act does not protect the right of condominium owners to display mezuzot on their doorframes.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal law requires accommodation for the handicapped but not for religion, the New York Sun reports. Content-neutral regulations that have the effect of banning religious displays are permitted, the court said in a 2-1 opinion (PDF).

The plaintiffs in the case, a mother and her two children, owned three condominiums in a Chicago building called Shoreline Towers. A condo regulation barred signs, shoes and other objects outside residents’ doors. They sued after building managers took down the plaintiffs’ mezuzot inscribed with Hebrew verses.

The majority opinion by Judge Frank Easterbrook said the regulation was content-neutral. “It bans photos of family vacations, political placards, for-sale notices and Chicago Bears pennants.”

Dissenting Judge Diane Wood said the rule operated as a constructive eviction of observant Jewish residents.

How Appealing first reported the decision yesterday.

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