WASHINGTON (Reuters) – cities within the western United States and their joint water corporate on Monday misplaced a U.S. federal lawsuit claiming they discriminated towards citizens who didn’t belong to an unacknowledged offshoot of the Mormon Church.

The U.S. Justice Division stated a federal jury in Arizona dominated in its choose. It had sued Colorado Town, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their joint water corporate in 2012, charging that people who didn’t belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been denied get right of entry to to the similar housing, application and policing products and services as individuals of the church.

The jury additionally issued a non-binding verdict discovering that the towns’ joint police division operated as an “arm” of the Utah-primarily based polygamous church, subjecting non-individuals to unconstitutional stops, seizures and arrests.

A district courtroom pass judgement on is thinking about the ones findings and can factor an final ruling, in keeping with the Justice Division.

“While groups deny their citizens essential products and services merely as a result of the place they worship, they violate our regulations and threaten the defining values of spiritual freedom and tolerance which might be the root of our u . s . a .,” stated Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Division’s civil rights department.

The lawsuit is the primary by which the Justice Division has ever introduced fees beneath each the Truthful Housing Act and the federal statute that provides the Lawyer Basic authority to punish police misconduct.

Beneath a previous settlement, the defendants can pay $1.6 million to get to the bottom of the housing discrimination fees.

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