JACKSON-The Township of Jackson, in New Jersey has been put on notice by a lawyer representing the growing community of Orthodox Jewish families within its borders.
Robert L. Greene, a lawyer from D.C. based Storzer & Associates wrote a letter to the editor, originally published in the Asbury Park Press, but received today by the Shore News Network.
Greene described Jackson Township’s recent proposal to ban dorms township-wide as “religious gerrymandering” and eluded that a lawsuit is imminent against the township.
The Jackson Township council is expected to pass an ordinance that restricts building school dormitories, commonly identified with housing for Orthodox Yeshivas in neighboring Lakewood Township.
The township council has been silent on the matter in public, with only councilman Barry Calogero stating he was looking forward voting yes to the ban.
His letter reads:
Jackson should take little comfort from the opinions expressed in the Feb. 24 article “Jackson looks to ban dorms” regarding its proposed ordinances targeting schools and dormitories.
Contrary to the claims made in the article, the facial neutrality of a law is only the starting point for a court’s analysis of whether it discriminates against a protected class.
More relevant to Jackson’s ordinances is the question of whether, as the Supreme Court put it, “the design of these laws accomplishes instead a ‘religious gerrymander,’ … an impermissible attempt to target” a particular religious group “and their religious practices.”
Jackson should consider itself placed on notice that its heavy-handed attempt to target a particular population could very well be challenged in an appropriate venue. In this day and age of building walls against other people and cultures, fear and panic should not supplant our important constitutional values.
Robert L. Greene
Storzer & Associates