Zoning, Planning & Land Use Civil Procedure Constitutional Law

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Department of Justice Sues Bensalem Township, PA Over Mosque Denial

On July 21, the United States Department of Justice sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, in federal court alleging violations of each of RLUIPA’s provisions following the Township’s 2014 denial of a variance application...more

D.C. Circuit Holds Informational Standing Nonexistent Prior to 12-Month Finding

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of an environmental organization’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) claim, concluding that the organization lacked standing...more

Supreme Court Update: U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers V. Hawkes (15-290), Johnson V. Lee (15-789), Lynch V. Arizona (15-8366) And...

As we settle into June, the Eight seem to be clearing out the less difficult decisions in preparation for what could be a messy end to the term, given some controversial issues (abortion, affirmative action, immigration) and...more

D.C. Circuit Holds Injury Exists Where Statutory Enactment Denies Plaintiff’s Right to Information; Upholds Section 9 Exemption...

On June 3, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held in Friends of Animals v. Jewell (No. 1:14-cv-00357) that Plaintiff Friends of Animals (“Plaintiff”) had Article III standing to pursue a constitutional...more

Church and New Jersey Township Nearing Settlement of Religious Lawsuit

We previously reported about the federal lawsuit filed by Christian Community Chapel against the Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey, in which the Township denied the Chapel’s variance requests to use a 14.3 acre property as...more

Muslim Group Rejects New Jersey Township’s Offer to Resubmit Mosque Application

Bernards Township, New Jersey has invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Earlier this year, the Township denied the Islamic Society’s application for a 4,250 square foot...more

Update: California Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Today, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Property Reserve v. Superior Court case. Today was also the day the Court began showing live webcasts of oral arguments online, so I was able to not only hear...more

Ninth Circuit Agrees That Prohibition on the Possession and Distribution of Cannabis Does Not Violate RFRA

Founder and president of Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc. (“Oklevueha”), Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney, filed suit in 2009 against various federal officials in the Federal District Court of Hawaii.  Mooney...more

City of Perris v. Stamper Oral Arguments Are Next Week

If you are an eminent domain junkie like us, then you will appreciate knowing that the City of Perris v. Stamper case (S213468) will be heard by the California Supreme Court on May 5, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in San Francisco. As a...more

Landmark Discrimination Case: Fair Housing Act Thwarts NIMBYs - Avenue 6E Investments, LLC v. City of Yuma (March 25, 2016)

Why It Matters: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision in favor of the City of Yuma, Arizona, and concluded instead that there was sufficient evidence to present to a jury that the City had rejected the...more

Homeowners Cannot Recover for Blocked Views of Hollywood Sign

One of the most valuable assets many homeowners enjoy is their property’s view. If the government undertakes an activity that eliminates or obstructs that view, is an owner entitled to relief? In Boxer v. City of Beverly...more

10th Circ.: Permit Issuance Is Not State Action For Purposes of 14th Amendment

On April 19, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Wasatch Equality, et al., v. Alta Ski Lifts Company, et al., affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Forest Service, in...more

Alabama Sex Offender Religious Land Use Case To Proceed

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama has ruled that Ricky Martin may proceed with his religious land use and other claims against the Chilton County District Attorney Randall Houston. The Middle...more

Children’s Crusade to Combat Climate Change Continues

A federal magistrate judge in Oregon has kept alive the dreams of a group of young plaintiffs—aided by environmental advocacy groups—to compel government action against climate change. Like a similar case brought by the same...more

Texas Supreme Court: Improper Application of Project-Influence Rule Resulted in Harmful Error

The Texas Constitution provides that “[n]o person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made.” Tex. Const. art. I, § 17. The Texas Supreme Court has...more

Be Safe, Get Your Standing Evidence in Early

A Land Use Practitioner representing opposition intervenors in a quasi-judicial land use matter is best served to present any evidence of special damages during the quasi-judicial hearing in order to preserve standing for...more

Recovery House’s RLUIPA Challenge Fails

The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has rejected RLUIPA and other claims asserted by a religious group in Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island (N.D. Ill. 2016). The case stems from...more

Supreme Court Update: Hawkins V. Patterson (14-520), Tyson Foods V. Bouaphakeo (14-1146), Nebraska V. Parker (14-406), Sturgeon V....

So many announcements since our last Update. The President announced D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland as his pick to take the late Justice Scalia's seat on the Court; Senate Republicans promptly announced that they...more

New Jersey District Court Remands RLUIPA and Equal Protection Defense to State Court

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund Review Board, and Joseph A. Kovalcik, Jr. (“Defendants”) in New Jersey Superior Court claiming...more

Regulatory Takings Cases and the Relevant Parcel: Murr v. Wisconsin

This summer, in Murr v. Wisconsin, the United States Supreme Court will make an important decision on property rights and regulatory takings under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. At issue...more

Federal Court Refuses To Reinstate Lesser Prairie Chicken Listing: What Now, And What’s Next?

Last fall a federal court in the Western District of Texas upheld a challenge to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (Service) decision to list the lesser prairie chicken (LEPC) as a threatened species under the federal...more

Religious Institutions Update: March 2016

Timely Topics - The death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will have an uncertain effect on religious institutions. Justice Scalia delivered the majority opinion in Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S...more

2,000sf Game Room, in Violation of Building Code, Not Protected By RLUIPA

Plaintiff Michael Salman wanted to hold Bible studies in his home and nothing, not even the prospects of a Phoenix municipal enforcement action, 60 days in jail, and $12,000 in fines would stop him. In 2007, Salman’s...more

Will The Supreme Court Loosen The Reins On Regulatory Takings Claims?

It is an understatement to say that pursuing a claim against the government for a Fifth Amendment regulatory taking is difficult. The United States Supreme Court has described such claims as presenting “an especially steep...more

Is a permit requirement for door-to-door solicitation a violation of the 1st Amendment?

The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists (the “Adventists”) filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Arkansas, contending that a local ordinance in White Hall, Arkansas (the “City”) restricts its right to...more

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