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Condo association can’t prohibit religious displays

A condominium association can’t adopt a rule that prohibits owners from displaying religious objects outside their unit entrances. That’s the word from a federal appeals court in Chicago, which allowed a Jewish family to bring a lawsuit after their condo association removed a mezuzah from their front door. (A three-judge panel of the court had earlier sided with the association, but the full court reconsidered and sided with the family.)

The court allowed a lawsuit under the federal Fair Housing Act, which bans religious discrimination in housing. The condo association said it wasn’t trying to discriminate based on religion. It said it had adopted a blanket ban on “objects of any sort” outside unit entrance doors, and it didn’t matter whether the objects were religious or not.

But according to the court, such a blanket ban is illegal and there has to be an exception for certain objects displayed for a religious purpose. (The family argued that their religion required them to place a mezuzah on their door.)

The court said the family could sue under two sections of the federal Act – one that prohibits a condo or homeowners’ association from discriminating “through its enforcement of the rules,” and another that prohibits an association from interfering with a person’s enjoyment of a residence because of religion.

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