Archives: Compelling Interest

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Federal Court: “There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”

Last week, a federal court in North Carolina issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the assembly of religious worship provisions in Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 138 (EO-138).  The court found that EO-138 was likely to violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  Under EO-138, all worship services involving more than 10 people … Continue Reading

Recap of the Top Read Blog Posts in 2018

As New Year’s approaches, let’s look back at last year’s happenings and how they have shaped religious land use issues across the nation.  Here are our top 10 most read blog posts of 2018: County of Ventura, California’s Permitting Scheme Stricken as Prior Restraint on Free Speech Rabbi Lacks Standing for some RLUIPA Claims, Says … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rejects Hawaii Cannabis Ministry’s RFRA Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the convictions of two ministers of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry who admitted using and distributing large quantities of cannabis in accordance with their religious beliefs.  The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry was founded in 2000 in the City of Hilo, Hawaii as “a community wherein Cannabis … Continue Reading

Synagogue Neighbor’s Weekday Service Protest Dismissed by New York Court

In 2005, the Village of Lawrence (Village) granted permission to Bais Medrash of Harborview Synagogue (Medrash) to construct a synagogue on three contiguous lots.  As part of its approval, Medrash entered a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants, prohibiting weekday services and vehicle traffic on Fridays and Saturdays with the exception of certain Jewish holidays that fell … Continue Reading

Supreme Judicial Court Holds That Sweat Lodge Prison Closure Violates RLUIPA

This is a guest post contributed by Joseph N. Schneiderman.* On November 23, in Trapp v. Roden, 473 Mass. 210 (2015), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s (DOC) closure of a sweat lodge at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC) violated RLUIPA. Justice Fernande R.V. Duffly wrote for a unanimous Court … Continue Reading

Supreme Judicial Court Hears Case Involving Access to Sweat Lodges in Prisons

This is a guest post contributed by Joseph N. Schneiderman.* On October 5, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts heard argument in Trapp v. Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, SJC-11863. At issue is whether RLUIPA (and the Massachusetts Constitution) recognize Native American inmates’ rights to access sweat lodges—or a sacred location for spiritual purification … Continue Reading

Prisoner in Seventh Circuit to Receive Venison and Religious Headband; Impact of Hobby Lobby and Holt on the Land Use World Continues to Grow.

Last week, we reported on a case where the Southern District of Florida decided against the Florida Department of Corrections, finding its refusal to provide kosher meals to inmates violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The court’s decision was noteworthy for its application of two recent Supreme Court decisions – Burwell … Continue Reading

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

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 U.S. v. Florida Department of Correction (S.D. FL 2015) is noteworthy for its application of two recent Supreme Court decisions – Burwell … Continue Reading

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

Normally, we would not report on an institutionalized person’s claim under RLUIPA, but we do so in Stover v. 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 means” available. As … Continue Reading

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 Missouri. According to the complaint, New Life operated out of a 50-foot trailer in the early 1970’s, rapidly grew, and then … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds Prison Grooming Policy Violates RLUIPA: Did Local Government Take a Haircut in the Process?

Remember the scene in Home Alone where Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) shaves for the first time, applies aftershave, and then screams in pain from the sting of the alcohol touching his skin (watch it here)?  Local governments may similarly feel the burn after reading the Supreme Court’s decision in Holt v. Hobbs, decided on January 20, which … Continue Reading

St. Michael, Minnesotas Cinemagic Theater: Riverside Churchs New Home? No, Says City Council

The City of St. Michael, Minnesota, after several months of negotiations, has denied Riverside Church’s application to modify the City’s General Business Zoning District (“GBD”).  The zoning amendment would have allowed Riverside to locate a “satellite campus” to a former, 15-screen Cinemagic Theater located in the GBD with access to Highway 241. Although it is … Continue Reading

United States Supreme Court to Hear RLUIPA Case Involving Prisoners Request to Grow Beard in Accordance with Muslim Faith

Although not a land use case, a pending prisoner’s RLUIPA claim bears following because it may ultimately shed some light on how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets “compelling interest” and “least restrictive means.” Gregory Holt a/k/a Abdul Maalik Muhammad is serving a lifetime sentence in Arkansas for burglary and domestic battery.  Mr. Holt seeks to … Continue Reading


The Religious Freedom Restoration Act In 1993, Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which adopted the compelling interest test established in two prior U.S. Supreme Court cases (Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1936) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)).  RFRA, which applied to both federal and state governments, prohibits a … Continue Reading