The Law: Communes Go to Court

Q. When is a family not a family?

A. When it is a commune.

So U.S. District Court Judge Albert Wollenberg seems to think. Last year 14 young people, living together as two "voluntary" families, brought suit in Wollenberg's court to stop Palo Alto. Calif., authorities from "harassing" them with local zoning laws. Those laws specify that in two particular areas of the town, no home may be occupied by more than four people not in the same family. The two groups argued that since they considered themselves families, they were protected by an "emanation" of the constitutional right to freedom of association....

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