CHICAGO (CN) – A Jewish family cannot recover damages from its condominium association for prohibiting them from placing a mezuzah on their door post, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Judge Easterbrook ruled that the Bloch family did not have the right to request a religious exception to the Shoreline Towers Condominium Association rule prohibiting anything hanging from the doors.
The Blochs said the rule prevented the free exercise of their religious beliefs.
The mezuzah is a scroll attached to the doorposts of some Jewish homes. The parchment on the scroll contains a passage from Deuteronomy on one side and “Shaddai,” or God, on the other.
Easterbrook ruled that the Fair Housing Act only provides accommodation for disability, not religion.
“What the Blochs want is a religious exception to a neutral rule,” the judge wrote. “(They) would like to treat failure to make an accommodation as a form of discrimination.”
Easterbrook cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 ruling in Employment Division v. Smith, in which the justices found that a neutral, exception-free rule is not discriminatory.
The building does now have an exception for religious items on doors, but the Blochs were suing for damages during the period in which the practice was prohibited.