Judges Jacobs, Livingston & Raggi
The legal action pitted JPOE vs. WHB, East End Eruv Assn., Verizon New York and the Long Island Lighting Co. (which is now being operated by Public Service Electric & Gas of New Jersey).
Judges Dennis Jacobs, Reena Raggi and Debra Ann Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, New York, ruled that the markers put on utility poles in WHB do not accomplish any religious purpose, as charged by JPOE, which also operates under the name “Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach.”
They said “No reasonable observer who notices the strips on LIPA utility poles would draw the conclusion that a state actor is thereby endorsing religion, even assuming that a reasonable observer was aware that a state actor (LIPA) was the entity that contracted with a private party to lease the space.”
Precedent was also cited. “Every court to have considered whether similar government actions violate the Establishment clause [which bars government support for any religion] has agreed that they do not,” says the decision.
It also notes that the eruv that was erected in WHB Aug. 8 is made up of “nearly invisible” staves and wires attached to utility poles.”
“Plaintiffs do not allege that these staves contain any overtly religious features that would distinguish them to a casual observer as any different from strips of material that might be attached to utility poles for secular purposes,” the decision further said.
Statements have been sought from officials of WHB, SH and Quogue but none had replied as of press time.
Click following link or image below for today’s full decision (PDF).