Jewish Cabbie in Montreal Allowed to Display Religious Objects in His Car

Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) reports:

In Canada, Montreal cabbie Arieh Perecowicz has reached an out-of-court settlement with the Montreal taxi bureau and has agreed to drop his appeal of four tickets he received for violating a Bureau du taxi rule that bars drivers from having items or inscriptions in their cab that are not necessary for the cab to be in service. Some of the items for which Perecowicz was cited were ones reflecting his Jewish faith. (See prior posting.) According to today’s Toronto Globe and Mail, under the settlement city officials will permit Perecowicz to keep two mezuzahs (small parchment scrolls) and a photo of former Lubavitch leader Rabbi Menachem Schneerson in his cab. The city will also withdraw four outstanding citations issued to Perecowicz, but the cab driver will still have to pay the four original tickets, along with fines of over $1000, which are the subject of his current appeal. In addition, the Bureau du taxi has issued a new directive to its inspectors encouraging them to show tolerance toward religious objects in cabs and not issue citations unless the religious objects pose a danger to passenger safety or are used for proselytizing.

Under American law, the cabbie would likely be entitled to a religious exemption from any similar no-personal-displays rules in about half the states; see the American religious exemption law post and the exemption law map. [UPDATE: I neglected to mention that for most religious items, the cabbie would also have a free speech claim, since most religious items are a form of self-expression as well as being religious conduct. A “no display of anything in your cab” ban would be content-neutral, and thus subjected to lesser constitutional scrutiny than a content-based speech restriction would be; but it would likely fail even that scrutiny. Thanks to David Nieporent for reminding me of this.]