Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lawsuit seeks to dissolve KJ 

A group of dissident residents in the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the municipality dissolved because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. If the court won’t do that, the suit seeks to have all village and school district officials removed from office.

The village, which plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Sussman called “a theocracy,” has allegedly engaged in years of harassment against the so-called dissident population, he alleged.

The 59-page lawsuit claims the village, formed in 1977 by the late Grand Rebbe and founder of the Satmar Hasidic movement, Joel Teitelbaum, “misuses municipal authority to discriminate against [the dissident population].” It alleges the village engages in religious discrimination, selective enforcement of its laws in favor of the leadership of the village, and “disparately treating the dissidents” with respect to property taxation, municipal fees, and enforcement of building zones; selectively enforcing laws on littering, noise and public order; and “engaging in voter fraud and intimidation to ensure that no ‘dissident’ is elected to serve in the village government.”

The suit also alleges the village’s Public Safety Department “misuses its law enforcement authority to selectively enforce laws for the purpose of advancing [the main congregation’s] agenda and repressing the ‘dissidents'."


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