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Subject: Public pool schedule and the first amendment rss

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Guido Van Horn
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http://nyti.ms/1WY79Qr


Here's the rundown. Public pool in Brooklyn that has a large orthodox Jewish population has a few hours per week of women only swimming time meant to accommodate the Jewish population and their prohibition of men and women swimming together. The policy has been in effect since the 90's. Someone complained anonymously, local politicians got involved. Some people including the New York Times thinks it is unconstitutional, some people say that public policy that accommodates is okay.

My thoughts, I think it is an interesting case of the proper bounds of inclusion and accommodation. By removing the accommodation you are effectively excluding a significant portion of the local user base from ever using the public pool to meet the demands of others who may still use the pool to their whims the majority of the time. I think in this case removing the women only swim time effectively does more direct harm than good.

Not being a constitutional scholar, I'm not sure what stance the Supreme Court would take. I'm trying to think of an analogous situation I can relate to or reference in justification but can't readily think of one.
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
http://nyti.ms/1WY79Qr


Here's the rundown. Public pool in Brooklyn that has a large orthodox Jewish population has a few hours per week of women only swimming time meant to accommodate the Jewish population and their prohibition of men and women swimming together. The policy has been in effect since the 90's. Someone complained anonymously, local politicians got involved. Some people including the New York Times thinks it is unconstitutional, some people say that public policy that accommodates is okay.

My thoughts, I think it is an interesting case of the proper bounds of inclusion and accommodation. By removing the accommodation you are effectively excluding a significant portion of the local user base from ever using the public pool to meet the demands of others who may still use the pool to their whims the majority of the time. I think in this case removing the women only swim time effectively does more direct harm than good.

Not being a constitutional scholar, I'm not sure what stance the Supreme Court would take. I'm trying to think of an analogous situation I can relate to or reference in justification but can't readily think of one.
If we want to take a strict Constitutional stance, why is the government providing a pool for ANY people? Especially when providing it obviously either respects an establishment of religion or impedes it's free exercise. The inability to satisfy the Constitution makes public pools unconstitutional at the very start, regardless of any local desire to use tax money to provide entertainment to the public.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
You could make the same argument about schools and parks.
I'm not sure you could. How do they violate religious practices? This is a particular prohibition built into the religion in question.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
And whoever complained anonymously, what a coward.
I don't think it's cowardly, in the age of angry mob justice (justified or not), some people would like to make a point without having to have their personal lives destroyed. Especially over something as trivial as pool hours. Hardly an issue to tie yourself to the stake over, but still potentially concerning enough to make a complaint. Sure it could have been a rage filled antisemite Nazi or it could have been a privacy seeking Atheist.
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TheChin! wrote:
Shushnik wrote:
And whoever complained anonymously, what a coward.
I don't think it's cowardly, in the age of angry mob justice (justified or not), some people would like to make a point without having to have their personal lives destroyed. Especially over something as trivial as pool hours. Hardly an issue to tie yourself to the stake over, but still potentially concerning enough to make a complaint. Sure it could have been a rage filled antisemite Nazi or it could have been a privacy seeking Atheist.
Maybe it was a Jewish woman who wanted to swim when convenient to her (and not her husband) who feared reprisals?
 
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Shushnik wrote:
There is no specific restriction to pools and gender segregation.
I was going by the OP that said that it was based on the specific prohibition of men and women swimming together.
Shushnik wrote:
It is the same in some religions for most or all social contact. A school would equally prohibited the free exercise of that religion. Furthermore, school is required by law. Attendance of a pool is not. So, in reality, it's more problematic.
Do they? The only one I can think of is some interpretations of Islam and it doesn't apply to children. Though it could be a problem if Muslim children had an unmarried male teacher, but I am unsure on that.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
Furthermore, school is required by law. Attendance of a pool is not. So, in reality, it's more problematic.
If children of different sexes actually cannot intermingle and female teachers practically assigned, then this is an argument for school vouchers, as much as I hate them. I don't think we can justify pool vouchers.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
social contact


aww, you were doing so well until you resorted to magical mythical documents to support your argument.
 
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TheChin! wrote:
If we want to take a strict Constitutional stance, why is the government providing a pool for ANY people? Especially when providing it obviously either respects an establishment of religion or impedes it's free exercise. The inability to satisfy the Constitution makes public pools unconstitutional at the very start, regardless of any local desire to use tax money to provide entertainment to the public.


I assume you are being facetious, but just a reminder that Artircle I, Section 8 of the US Constitution does NOT restrict state or local governments (except through Article VI, paragraph 2, the Supremacy Clause), and the Tenth Amendment expressly reserves to the states or to the people powers not delegated to the United States. Of course, a state constitution might limit such powers.

(edited for formatting and typos)
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actuaryesquire wrote:
I assume you are being facetious, but just a reminder that Artircle I, Section 8 of the US Constitution does NOT restrict state or local governments (except through Article VI, paragraph 2, the Supremacy Clause), and the Tenth Amendment expressly reserves to the states or to the people powers not delegated to the United States. Of course, a state constitution might limit such powers.

(edited for formatting and typos)
Wait, so local/state governments CAN respect an establishment of religion or impede it's exercise? Utah could decide that only Mormons are allowed to have tax breaks? Idaho could make Scientology the State Religion? Florida could become the first Voodoo government?

I think the 14th amendment and subsequent SCOTUS decisions think otherwise.
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TheChin! wrote:
actuaryesquire wrote:
I assume you are being facetious, but just a reminder that Artircle I, Section 8 of the US Constitution does NOT restrict state or local governments (except through Article VI, paragraph 2, the Supremacy Clause), and the Tenth Amendment expressly reserves to the states or to the people powers not delegated to the United States. Of course, a state constitution might limit such powers.

(edited for formatting and typos)
Wait, so local/state governments CAN respect an establishment of religion or impede it's exercise? Utah could decide that only Mormons are allowed to have tax breaks? Idaho could make Scientology the State Religion? Florida could become the first Voodoo government?

I think the 14th amendment and subsequent SCOTUS decisions think otherwise.


C'mon, Chin, you can read better than that. I referred to Article I, section 8, not the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The issue of Constitutional limitations on the scope of what government can do, which is what you referred to, is different from restrictions on discrimination (or favoring) religion or individuals in certain classes.

The issue of religious discrimination or favoritism is relevant to this situation. The issue of Constitutional restrictions on the scope of federal actions is not.
 
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actuaryesquire wrote:

C'mon, Chin, you can read better than that. I referred to Article I, section 8, not the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The issue of Constitutional limitations on the scope of what government can do, which is what you referred to, is different from restrictions on discrimination (or favoring) religion or individuals in certain classes.

The issue of religious discrimination or favoritism is relevant to this situation. The issue of Constitutional restrictions on the scope of federal actions is not.
I guess I am not understanding. It has been established that the First Amendment does extend to state and local governments. That is the basis for my point. Providing a public pool that either discriminates against a religious group or favors them is trapped because there is no third state it possibly could be. There isn't even that much public value to consider exceptions for it.

Don't get me wrong, I am as big government as they come, but this is one of those instances where I say throw it to the free market and let them provide it. A park is one thing, but a pool is gratuitous in my book.
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David Dearlove
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I don't quite understand this. Is the pool allowing non-Jewish women in during its women- only period? If it is what's the issue?
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TheChin! wrote:
actuaryesquire wrote:

C'mon, Chin, you can read better than that. I referred to Article I, section 8, not the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The issue of Constitutional limitations on the scope of what government can do, which is what you referred to, is different from restrictions on discrimination (or favoring) religion or individuals in certain classes.

The issue of religious discrimination or favoritism is relevant to this situation. The issue of Constitutional restrictions on the scope of federal actions is not.
I guess I am not understanding. It has been established that the First Amendment does extend to state and local governments. That is the basis for my point. Providing a public pool that either discriminates against a religious group or favors them is trapped because there is no third state it possibly could be. There isn't even that much public value to consider exceptions for it.

Don't get me wrong, I am as big government as they come, but this is one of those instances where I say throw it to the free market and let them provide it. A park is one thing, but a pool is gratuitous in my book.


I may have misunderstood your point, and I apologize for the snark. You wrote: "If we want to take a strict Constitutional stance, why is the government providing a pool for ANY people?"

I took your point to be that a local government providing a pool or other recreational opportunity is a violation of the scope of permitted government under the Constitution. If so, you are mistaken about the scope of the Constitutional restrictions.

If your point is that it is not possible for a local governemnt to provide a pool without infringing someone's religious freedoms, you are correct that the First Amendment, through the Fourteenth Amendment, applies to local governments. I would disagree with your assumtion that a reasonable accommodation is not possible, but that is a matter of judgment.
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DavidDearlove wrote:
I don't quite understand this. Is the pool allowing non-Jewish women in during its women- only period? If it is what's the issue?
Good point, this would make a difference.
 
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actuaryesquire wrote:
I may have misunderstood your point, and I apologize for the snark. You wrote: "If we want to take a strict Constitutional stance, why is the government providing a pool for ANY people?"

I took your point to be that a local government providing a pool or other recreational opportunity is a violation of the scope of permitted government under the Constitution. If so, you are mistaken about the scope of the Constitutional restrictions.

If your point is that it is not possible for a local governemnt to provide a pool without infringing someone's religious freedoms, you are correct that the First Amendment, through the Fourteenth Amendment, applies to local governments. I would disagree with your assumtion that a reasonable accommodation is not possible, but that is a matter of judgment.


Yeah, I meant the latter, sorry if my hyperbole confused my point.
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TheChin! wrote:
DavidDearlove wrote:
I don't quite understand this. Is the pool allowing non-Jewish women in during its women- only period? If it is what's the issue?
Good point, this would make a difference.
Or a non Jewish man turned up and was turned away.
 
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slatersteven wrote:
Or a non Jewish man turned up and was turned away.
Then it could be expanded to a sex thing. But, they could also have a man only session to equalize. But, to your point, someone might bring up a separate by equal parallel and everything gets hairy again.
 
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J.D. Hall
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Legal nitpicking. This is a bullshit issue that wastes time. They should tell Mr./Ms. Anonymous to go fuck themselves.
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remorseless1 wrote:
Legal nitpicking. This is a bullshit issue that wastes time. They should tell Mr./Ms. Anonymous to go fuck themselves.
Why not the people who want to exclude someone?

Why the fuck should anyone have to put themselves out for another religion, they want to believe crap they should be the ones put out by it.
 
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J.D. Hall
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We're talking Brooklyn, NY. There's a million people who live there, probably dozens if not hundreds of public pools in the borough. We're not talking about my little Podunk town in Oklahoma which has one swimming pool open to the public. Remember SCOTUS' line about "undue burden"? One pool closing its doors to men for a couple hours a week is like one pool closing its doors to swimmers so they could have a swimming class for non-swimmers once a week.

Legal nitpicking. Waste of time.
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jeremycobert wrote:
Shushnik wrote:
social contact


aww, you were doing so well until you resorted to magical mythical documents to support your argument.

Wow, you must be a seriously hardcore basement dweller if "social contact" gets that sort of terrified reaction out of you.
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remorseless1 wrote:
One pool closing its doors to men for a couple hours a week is like one pool closing its doors to swimmers so they could have a swimming class for non-swimmers once a week.
Friggin' entitled non-swimmers, we should send them back to the land-locked country they came from.
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J.D. Hall
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TheChin! wrote:
remorseless1 wrote:
One pool closing its doors to men for a couple hours a week is like one pool closing its doors to swimmers so they could have a swimming class for non-swimmers once a week.
Friggin' entitled non-swimmers, we should send them back to the land-locked country they came from.

Agree. They hate our freedom (to swim without drowning)
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I'm not crazy that a group of people with certain religious beliefs are essentially able to dictate when others get to use the public pool. But I realize Brooklyn has a large Jewish population that has these beliefs so I guess accommodations should be made. I would be OK with this as long as the hours for when the females could use the pool isn't substantially less than when the males could. Equal time is good. Also those hours when women can use the pool would need to be at reasonable hours and not at midnight or 2 am for example. Then again I highly doubt a public pool has hours that late. The devil is in the details here.
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