Constitutional Law Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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U.S. District Court Rejects Challenges to Final Rule Terminating Sea Otter Translocation Program.

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected the assertion by the California Sea Urchin Commission, California Abalone Association, and Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara...more

Hope Rising Church Hoping for a Preliminary Injunction

In June 2014, Plaintiff Hope Rising Community Church sought to establish a place of worship in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. According to its complaint, Pastor Harry Hoff met with Penn Hill’s planning and code enforcement...more

Mosque’s RLUIPA Claims Move Forward

Almost a year ago, we reported on The Bensalem Masjid, Inc.’s lawsuit against Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania following the Township’s denial of Masjid’s use variance application to build a 16,900-square foot mosque,...more

Eminent Domain and Condemnation – What’s It All About?

Texan ranch owner Hugh Steerman (fondly known as “Gramps”) just received notice that his family’s fourth-generation, 2,000-acre, Rambling Steer Ranch is a possible pathway for the West Texas Rail from Fort Worth to El Paso....more

No TRO: Here’s Why

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, approximately two weeks after it denied Livingston Christian Schools’ (“LCS” or “School”) request for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”), has issued a written...more

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

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms That Content-Based Sign Codes Violate The First Amendment

Now, more than ever, local municipalities should review their municipal sign laws to ensure that signs are not being regulated based on their message. This is in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that an...more

Arkansas Senate Opens the Door; Baphomet Walks In

The Arkansas Senate, in passing Bill no. 939 (now Act 1231), authorized the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol to purportedly “help the people of the United States and of...more

Lawsuit Challenges Ohio’s Disqualification of Local Anti-Frac Ballot Initiatives

Residents in three Ohio counties have sued the state after Secretary of State Jon Husted invalidated three ballot proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing projects in Fulton, Medina, and Athens counties. The bans, if passed,...more

Jesus is Just Alright, Holds the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision ruling that a twelve foot statute of Jesus near Montana’s Big Mountain does not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The statue, known as “Big Mountain...more

What Happens When the United States Condemns a Street, Road or Public Highway?

Generally when the United States takes property pursuant to its eminent domain authority, “just compensation” is based on the market value of the property on the date of the taking. However, when acquiring a street, road or...more

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like… But Your Information Might Never Leave

When you check into a hotel, do you assume that the clerk asks for your license plate number to avoid accidentally towing your car? Or that guest services wants to know how many people are in your group to make sure that...more

Federal Court Denies Religious School’s Request for Temporary Restraining Order

A few weeks ago, we reported on a new RLUIPA suit arising in Genoa Charter Township, Michigan, where Livingston Christian Schools is suing the Township over the denial of a special land use permit to operate a religious...more

RLUIPA Round-up

Unfortunately it’s time to say goodbye to the last true week of summer. But RLUIPA Defense is happy to say hello to fall with another edition of the Round-Up! - According to the San Francisco Chronicle, despite an...more

East End Eruv Association one step closer to achieving its goal

Last month, we reported on the New York State Supreme Court decision that held the Town of Southampton, New York erroneously applied its sign ordinance to East End Eruv Association’s (“EEEA”) proposed eruv, which EEEA seeks...more

Where the First Amendment and Land Use Meet: Planet Aid v. City of St. Johns

Generally speaking, land use regulations and zoning laws arise from practical and aesthetic concerns and considerations, and are driven by state and local law. However, sometimes a community’s desire to regulate a seemingly...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

Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Some, But Not All, RLUIPA Claims

A federal court in Illinois, in Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois (N.D. Ill. 2015), dismissed some of the Church’s religious land use claims while allowing others to proceed. The case is...more

A Legal Morass: Overlapping Takings Law With the Endangered Species Act

Last week, Jeremy Jacobs posted an interesting article about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agriculture, No. 14-275 (U.S. Jun. 22, 2015), and its potential application to Endangered Species Act...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

Seventh Circuit Applies Reed v. Gilbert to Strike Down Panhandling Ordinance

Local governments may now have more to fear following the Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert. While the Reed decision may cause many local governments to question the constitutionality of their sign...more

New RLUIPA Suit: Religious School Sues Genoa Charter Township, Michigan

As the end of summer nears, most schools are finalizing courses and preparing for the return of students. Livingston Christian Schools has much more to deal with – it is suing Genoa Charter Township, Michigan, in federal...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

Houston Housing Authority Sued Under Texas RFRA for Taking Church Properties

Two Houston churches are using the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“TRFRA”) to challenge the Houston Housing Authority’s actions to acquire their properties by eminent domain as part of an urban renewal project. The...more

But I’ve Always Had a Dock on the Easement

For decades Michigan courts have been called upon to decide whether a waterfront easement, platted way, or similar access device permits the user to exercise riparian rights – the ability to install a dock and moor boats to...more

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