2nd Circuit affirms dismissal of dissident Hasidic group’s discrimination claims against Kiryas Joel

In Kiryas Joel Alliance v. Village of Kiryas Joel, (2d Cir., Sept. 10, 2012), the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a New York federal district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a dissident faction of the Satmar Hasidic sect living in Village of Kiryas Joel, New York. Plaintiffs reject the authority of the sect’s current Grand Rebbe, Aron Teitelbaum, who leads the dominant religious organization in the Village, Congregation Yetev. Plaintiffs claim that because of their refusal to accept the Grand Rebbe, they have been discriminated against in various ways by the Village, which is run by Congregation Yetev members. The court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims of discriminatory application of zoning law to them on res judicata grounds. It held that plaintiffs lack standing to assert certain claims of injury to non-parties to the litigation. It rejected plaintiffs’ equal protection religious discrimination claims, finding that plaintiffs had not shown that defendants were motivated by religious, as opposed to political, differences. Finally the court also rejected plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause and conspiracy claims.