Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against New Jersey Township Over ‘Antisemitic Conduct’ Toward Orthodox Jews
A New Jersey township was the focus of a new Justice Department lawsuit on Wednesday that charged its planning board with “religious discrimination” and “antisemitic conduct” toward Orthodox Jewish residents.
The lawsuit against Jackson Township alleges that the town’s planning board implemented two zoning ordinances that intentionally restricted the operation of religious schools.
Both ordinances expressly prohibited dormitories throughout Jackson, making it impossible to establish yeshivot and other religious schools.
Although Jackson passed these ordinances to prevent dormitories anywhere in its vicinity, the planning board has since approved, without requiring a variance, the plans for two nonreligious projects with dormitory-type housing.
The complaint also alleges that the township and planning board enacted the ordinances with respect to religious dormitories against a backdrop of extreme animus by Jackson residents and township decision makers toward the Orthodox Jewish community.
“Religious discrimination has no place in our society and runs counter to the founding principles of our nation,” US Attorney Craig Carpenito said. “No religious community should ever face unlawful barriers or be singled out for inferior treatment. This complaint reflects our continued commitment to combat discrimination and unequal treatment.”
Eric Dreiband — assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division — affirmed that using zoning laws “to target Orthodox Jewish individuals for intentional discrimination and exclude them from a community is illegal and utterly incompatible with this Nation’s values.”
Pledged Dreiband: “The Department of Justice will use the full force of its authority to stop such anti-Semitic conduct and prevent its recurrence.”