Zoning, Planning & Land Use Civil Rights

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Disparate-Impact Claims Under Fair Housing Act

In a recent holding, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) may be premised on "disparate impact," meaning that a plaintiff may challenge a practice even if it was not...more

Supreme Court Decision May Make It Easier for Borrowers to Sue for Discrimination

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States may make it easier for borrowers to claim discrimination when denied a loan. In late June 2015, the Court addressed whether lawsuits brought under the Fair Housing...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

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

Gov. Brown Assembles Fracking Review Panel

According to several news organizations, Governor Brown has announced plans to form a new panel to review the recent well stimulation study conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology (“CCST”)....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

DOJ Files Lawsuit Against City of Beaumont, Texas for Alleged FHA Violations

On May 26, the DOJ announced a lawsuit against the city of Beaumont, Texas (Beaumont) for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the DOJ’s complaint, Beaumont’s...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

Ninth Circuit Issues Decision in Civil Rights Case in Review of California SIP

On May 8, 2015, in El Comite Para El Bienestar De Earlimart v. EPA, a Panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review filed by several groups that the court describes as “community...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

Illinois Appellate Court Interprets Equal Terms “Comparator” Favorably for Local Government

In an important decision for local governments, the Illinois Appellate Court on March 6, 2015 issued its decision in Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov Elementary School (“JDBY”) v. City of Evanston. The decision, particularly the...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.tv (“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

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