A federal court in Nevada recently dismissed a church’s claim that a music festival in “Sin City” Las Vegas featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran, and Twenty One Pilots burdened its religious exercise. According to the church, the three-day art, music, culinary and learning festival known as “Life is Beautiful” results in large crowds, road closings and concert noise that interfere with its ability to hold weekend worship services. The festival covers 11 city blocks, attracts thousands of people, and showcases 70 musical acts on 4 stages. The church, Amistad Christiana Church, sued the City of Las Vegas and Life is Beautiful, LLC to bar the music festival or, in the alternative, for the defendants to put in place “mature noise buffers” or come up with some other method to prevent the music from the stages from drowning out the church’s services.
The Court dismissed the church’s § 1983 claim against the City because the City took no action to prohibit, regulate, or coerce the church’s religious beliefs or practices. It merely issued a permit for a music festival. The church’s freedom of speech claim failed because “[t]he record reflects no indication that the City’s action was motivated by the City’s disdain of [the church’s] religious orientation … or by the message to be communicated to the students/parishioners at the Property.” These same claims failed against the LLC because a § 1983 claim can be brought only against a state actor.
Lastly, the Court dismissed the church’s state law nuisance claims since the musical festival is only a temporary event in a location frequently used for festivals. Further, the nuisance claim was premised largely on the alleged constitutional violations. However, the Court noted that there may be other ways in which the church could establish a nuisance and dismissed the claim without prejudice, but noted that any such claim must be brought in state court.
The decision in Amistad Christiana Church v. Life is Beautiful, LLC (Dist. Nevada 2015) is available here.