Caitlin Haffert, a psychic medium, urges City Council to rescind the "anti-fortune telling ordinance."


Who could have predicted it?

Decades after it was originally approved, Sea Isle City may amend or rescind an ordinance banning fortune telling and other psychic activities, including “palmistry, phrenology, physiognomy (and) occult practices.” It also prohibits anyone who “pretends to tell destinies or fortunes.”

City Council is going to take a second look at what is colloquially known as the “anti-fortune telling ordinance” following complaints that it is unconstitutional.

Caitlin Haffert, a psychic medium and the great-granddaughter of the late William Haffert Sr., who served as Sea Isle’s mayor from 1945 to 1956, appeared at a City Council meeting June 25 to urge Council to repeal the law.

“Simply put, Sea Isle’s anti-fortune telling ordinance is unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty granted to us as unalienable rights by the U.S. Constitution,” Haffert said in public remarks to Council.

She pointed out that other cities have had similar ordinances struck down by the courts on the grounds they were unconstitutional and a violation of First Amendment rights.

“This is not a new issue, and there have been many rulings and determinations to support this,” she said.

Pat Haffert, Caitlin’s father, also called on Sea Isle officials to rescind the law. He told Council that it is common for psychic mediums to have their own TV shows now that the practice of communicating with the dead has made its way into mainstream entertainment.

“This is a mainstream activity now. It’s very, very recognized on many different levels. Therefore, Sea Isle should take a look at it and think about it,” Pat Haffert said. “This is pretty standard activity these days, and you might want to reconsider your ordinance.”

After listening to the Hafferts, Councilman J.B. Feeley said he wants the governing body to discuss the ordinance with Sea Isle solicitor Paul Baldini in coming weeks in hopes of either amending or rescinding it.

“I’d like to bring something back by next month,” Feeley said.

Councilman J.B. Feeley wants the governing body to discuss the ordinance with the city solicitor.

In an interview after the Council meeting, Baldini said he believes Sea Isle approved the ordinance about 35 or 40 years ago, but wasn’t sure about the timeframe because it was well before he started as city solicitor.

Although the ordinance remains on the books, Council amended it in April to allow fortune telling and other psychic practices in Sea Isle if they are part of “educational programs, events, seminars, or exhibitions sponsored by government entities.”

The amendment was intended to allow fortune telling and other psychic activities during organized events or exhibitions held at the Sea Isle branch of the Cape May County Library.

However, Caitlin Haffert said library officials are “spooked” that they may somehow violate the ordinance and have canceled psychic activities there, including hers.

Speaking in an interview after the Council meeting, Haffert stressed that she is not a fortune teller. She described herself as a psychic medium who helps families and others communicate with deceased loved ones.

She said she hopes Sea Isle will repeal the ordinance entirely so that she can set up her own psychic business in town.

“I don’t think any of us wants to see Sea Isle put on the map for defending a law that is unconstitutional and violates its citizens’ and visitors’ constitutional rights,” she told the Council members. “It is time to repeal this ordinance. It is time to set things right for the highest and greatest good of all, which is how I do my work.”

“I implore you to repeal this ordinance swiftly and completely,” she continued. “It’s the right thing to do, and you don’t need to be a psychic to know that.”