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Jewish groups challenge Cincinnati's holiday rules for plaza

By The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Two Jewish groups filed a federal lawsuit this week challenging an ordinance banning anyone but the city from holding events or erecting displays at a downtown plaza during the holiday season.

City officials had said the ordinance, which was passed in April, was intended to encourage economic development by keeping Fountain Square uncluttered during the year's busiest retail season.

The ordinance prevents the Ku Klux Klan from erecting a cross in the square, as it had done for several years in the 1990s. In 1993 a federal judge granted an injunction blocking city attempts to prevent Klan displays.

The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 12 by Chabad of Southern Ohio, a nonprofit religious organization, and Congregation Lubavitch, which want to continue erecting a menorah on the square. The suit calls the ordinance an unconstitutional "administrative scheme."

Robert Johnstone, a deputy city solicitor, did not return a message seeking Cincinnati's response to the suit, which was filed shortly before the court closed.

Supreme Court turns away dispute over menorah in city plaza
On Nov. 29, Justice Stevens vacated lower court's order that would have prevented Hanukkah display in Cincinnati's Fountain Square. 12.17.02

Cincinnati bars events, displays in downtown square during holidays
Officials say ordinance isn't aimed at a particular group, but since 1992, city has been embroiled in fight to keep Klan from erecting cross. 04.19.02

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