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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Family life

St. John, Ind., apparently has a zoning ordinance that forbids persons "who are unrelated to each other" from living together in a dwelling that is in a single-family district. The town is getting grief, justifiably, for not granting a variance:

In the suit, the Justice Department charges that the town of St. John did intentionally discriminate against someone with a disability when the town did not allow a variance to their zoning regulations. Specifically they did not allow one person with multiple sclerosis to live with a resident of St. John in his home because they were not related.

I wonder if the ordinance itself would stand up to constitutional scrutiny. It seems like a pretty broad law if the town won't allow an exception even for someone so disabled that he can't live alone.  There have been quite a lot of cases on this subject, and courts have let such zoning stand, for the legitimate purpose of preserving homogenous, traditional neighboroods, if the ordinance isn't too stingy in its definition of what a "family" is. There is a difference, for example in trying to set up a frat house and trying to set up a group home. If a town won't let a disabled man live with an unrelated person, what in the world is it going to do with boyfriends and girlfriends who want to live together before or instead of marriage?

This punches my libertarian buttons. As long as they aren't doing anything illegal, like running prostitutes or a drug house, or their nonsense spills out into the yard and the street, I don't care who lives next door, and I don't want them caring about goes on in my house, either.


Larry Morris
Tue, 09/25/2007 - 8:13am

Yet another attempt to legislate morality - has never worked in the past but we just keep trying it, ...