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

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 considered the portion of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that governs religious exercise by institutionalized persons (Section 3, 42 USC § 2000cc–1).  Although the case does not discuss the land use provisions of RLUIPA, the Court’s interpretation of the standard applicable to governmental action imposing a substantial burden on religious exercise—whether the government furthered a compelling interest through the least restrictive means—could have a major influence on all RLUIPA substantial burden decisions and make defending land use decisions more difficult for local governments. 
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds Prison Grooming Policy Violates RLUIPA: Did Local Government Take a Haircut in the Process?

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

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

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