Civil Rights Zoning, Planning & Land Use Constitutional Law

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Religious Institutions: September 2015

Respondeat superior (literally, "let the master answer" in Latin) is a doctrine that applies when an employer or principal has the ability and authority to direct and control the pertinent acts of the employee. Put otherwise,...more

Five Surprising Facts About the Inclusive Communities Case

In the Supreme Court’s recent, landmark decision in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U.S. ___, 2015 WL 2473449 (Jun. 25, 2015), the Court held that, while disparate...more


We’ve been monitoring news items involving local government, religion, and land use that may be of interest to our readers. Below is what has caught our attention. Livingston Daily reports that Genoa Charter Township...more

Supreme Court Takes on Housing Discrimination

Court rules that actions that disproportionally affect minority groups can support lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that certain actions that adversely affect minorities in poor...more

Supreme Court Affirms FHA Disparate Impact Claims

Late last month, the Supreme Court handed down a significant decision affecting rights and obligations under the Fair Housing Act. The Court’s 5-4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive...more


Religion Clause Blog reports that Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis is using the state’s recently enacted religious freedom law to protect its founder and two members from prosecution for possession of marijuana. The Church...more

Religious Institutions: June 2015

Religious institutions commonly make payments to or receive payments directly or indirectly from governmental agencies for services rendered; e.g., day cares that benefit from public scholarships, hospitals that participate...more

Kosher Meals for Prisoners: U.S. Department of Justice Wins Claim of Religious Discrimination against the Florida Department of...

A federal court has ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections’ (Department) refusal to provide kosher meals to inmates violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The court’s decision in...more

City of Marysville, Washington Defeats RLUIPA, RFRA, and Fair Housing Claims

In Holy Ghost Revival Ministries v. City of Marysville (W.D. Washington), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington considered claims of religious discrimination brought by Holy Ghost Revival Ministries...more

Suit by “Interested,” Neighboring Municipalities to Enforce SEQRA Requirements Does Not “Impose or Implement” a Land Use...

On March 27, 2015, the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants in the consolidated action Bernstein v. Wesley Hills, 08-CV-156; 12-CV-8856 (KMK), (the “Wesley Hills” Action). The...more

Transgender Native American Prisoner Denied Access to Sweat Lodge and Unsatisfied with the Alternative Sues under RLUIPA: More on...

Corrections Corporation of America (Dist. Idaho 2015) because the decision reflects a recent trend in RLUIPA cases: close judicial scrutiny as to whether a compelling government interest is furthered by “the least restrictive...more

St. Louis Homeless Shelter Files RLUIPA Claim and Requests Preliminary Injunction to Continue Operations

Plaintiff, New Life Evangelistic Center, Inc., (“New Life”), an interdenominational Christian Church formed in 1972 by Reverend Larry Rice, recently sued the City of St. Louis, Missouri (the “City”) in the Eastern District of...more

“Integral Yoga” Group and Swami Hope to Find Their Inner Balance in Federal Court; Lawsuit Alleges Religious Discrimination by...

The Spirit of Aloha Temple (“Spirit”) and Fredrick R. Honig a/k/a Swami Swaroopananda are suing the County of Maui and the Maui Planning Commission (“Commission”) over the Commission’s denial of their proposal to use an...more

Evangelical Church Sues Colonie, New York, Alleges Religious Discrimination, Over Delays in Land Use Approval Process

An evangelical church, Life Covenant Church a/k/a (“LifeChurch”), is suing Colonie, New York (“Town”), the Town’s Planning Board, certain of its members, and the Town’s attorneys over allegations that the Town’s...more

2d Cir Extends Williamson County Ripeness "Final Decision" Requirement To ADA Claims

Ah, Williamson County. We've ranted about it before, so we won't do so here (again). But takings mavens know that a property owner must meet two tests before she can raise a takings claim against a state or local government...more

Second Circuit Restores Litchfield Synagogue's Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by a Litchfield Jewish organization has been reinstated, giving the group new hopes it will ultimately win approval to build a 20,000-square-foot synagogue and community center near the historic...more

Norwalk Settles Mosque Lawsuit for $2 Million

A long-running dispute between the city of Norwalk and an Islamic group appears to be settled, with the city agreeing to pay $2 million to the group and help it find an alternate location for a mosque and a meeting...more

Second Circuit Revives Chabad Group’s RLUIPA Suit

On September 19, 2014, the Second Circuit issued its decision in Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, Inc. v. Borough of Litchfield (2d Cir. 2014), reversing the lower court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the...more

City’s Handling of Application for Subdivision Approvals May Trigger Liability Under Fair Housing Act

The Federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, including discriminatory land use decisions, on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or familial status. The...more

New RLUIPA Suit Accuses Two New York Municipalities of Anti-Semitism

The Village of Bloomingburg, NY (Village) and the Town of Mamakating, NY (Town) are facing allegations of religious discrimination in land use regulation. On September 8, 2014, the Bloomingburg Jewish Education Center,...more

DOJ Sues Minnesota City Over Denial of Islamic Somali Immigrants’ Mosque Proposal

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued the City of St. Anthony Village under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) after the City Council, in 2012, denied the Abu Huraira Islamic Center’s...more

Religious Institutions Update: March 2013

In this Issue: - Key Cases - Court Upholds Permitting, Licensing and Zoning Regulation of Spiritual Counselors - Non-Liturgical Navy Chaplains Denied Injunctive Relief for Statistical Imbalance in...more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2013

In 2000, Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc et seq. (RLUIPA), in recognition that "new, small, or unfamiliar churches in particular, are frequently discriminated...more

Koontz v. St. John's River Water Management District

Brief Amicus Curiae of Owners' Counsel of America in Support of the Petitioner

Today, on behalf Owners' Counsel of America, we filed this amicus brief in Koontz v. St Johns River Water Mgmt Dist., No. 11-1447 (cert. granted Oct. 5, 2012). That's the case asking whether the "essential nexus" and "rough...more

How Late Is It?

On September 28th, 2012 Cook County Associate Judge Thomas Donnelly threw out the arrests of Occupy Chicago demonstrators who had been charged with violation of the City of Chicago’s overnight park curfew. He went on to...more

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