A district court has ruled that the City of Meriden, Connecticut (the City) discriminated against Omar Islamic Center Inc. following the City’s denial of the Islamic Center’s application to move its mosque to another location. The Islamic Center (the Center) outgrew is prior location – a 1,200 square foot space above a pizza restaurant in
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
7th Circuit Rules Church’s RLUIPA Claims Against Markham, Illinois Ripe for Review
The Seventh Circuit recently reversed a district court’s decision finding a church’s RLUIPA claims were unripe and moot because it was granted parking variances and a conditional use permit after the church brought suit. The case involves the Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (“Church”). For the past 15 years, the Church has gathered at a residential home in the City of Markham’s R-3 One-Family Residential District for worship services, choir rehearsals, and Bible studies. In 2012, as the Church’s congregation grew and its religious activities expanded, it remodeled the garage into a chapel. The work consisted of installing a new roof, new windows, and pews at a cost of about $40,000. Months after the Church completed this work the City of Markham brought an injunction against the Church to have the Church apply for a conditional use permit for its expanded religious activities. The City denied the conditional use permit and the Church sued, alleging violations of RLUIPA’s equal terms, substantial burden, and unreasonable limits provisions and Illinois’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (see our prior post about this case here).
Continue Reading 7th Circuit Rules Church’s RLUIPA Claims Against Markham, Illinois Ripe for Review
Nuns Lose Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Challenge
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled against a Roman Catholic group challenging the use of their land in connection with an interstate natural gas pipeline. The Adorers of the Blood of Christ (“Adorers”) is “an ecclesial group of women living in community … whose religious practice includes protecting and preserving creation, which they believe is a revelation of God.” They believe that “God calls humans to treasure land as a gift of beauty and sustenance that should not be used in an excessive or harmful way.” The Adorers own land in Columbia, Pennsylvania used to sponsor the St. Anne’s Retirement Community and for growing crops by local farmers. In February 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order authorizing the construction and operation of 199.5 miles of new pipeline in Pennsylvania connecting to existing pipelines running to South Carolina. The pipeline project will reportedly supply gas to more than 7 million American homes. The Adorers’ land was to be included as part of the pipeline project, and FERC issued an order authorizing the taking of the Adorers’ property by eminent domain for the project, if necessary.
Continue Reading Nuns Lose Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Challenge
Pave it! RFRA Unlikely to Protect Sacred Burial Ground
A Federal Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court of Oregon recently issued findings and recommendations in Chief Wilder Slockish, et al. v. U.S. Federal Highway Administration, et al., concluding that federal highway construction work did not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ religious exercise. Plaintiffs, including members of the Confederated Tribes…
Cockfighting Not Sincerely Held Religious Belief, Rules Federal Court
In United States of America v. Cruz (F.D.N.Y. 2018), Hector Cruz pled guilty to the charge of knowingly attending a cockfighting event (a fight between two roosters) for sport and entertainment in the Bronx, New York, in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 2156(a)(2)(A) (the “Animal Fighting Venture Prohibition”). Despite pleading guilty, Cruz raised a bevy…
Seventh Circuit Rules No Religious Discrimination Based On Sprinkler Requirement
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed the decision of the Northern District of Illinois, finding against a faith-based recovery home’s claims of religious discrimination and Fair Housing Act violations stemming from a fire code dispute over the installation of a sprinkler system. Our prior post regarding the case is available…
RLUIPA Implications of Trump’s Immigration Executive Order
Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order prohibiting the enforcement of Executive Order 13769 – “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” – and denying the federal government’s emergency motion for a stay to allow enforcement…
Nashville Islamic Center’s Religious Discrimination Claims Dismissed
A federal district court in Tennessee recently dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a claim by the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) lawsuit challenging a Tennessee property tax exemption law on religious freedom grounds. Please see our previous blog post about the case here.
Since 1995, ICN has operated a religious school,…
Bare Amish Horses? It Depends.
Two Amish men have sued Auburn, Kentucky (population approx. 1,300) in a Kentucky state court over an ordinance requiring that horses wear equine diapers. The ordinance, passed in 2014, is intended to keep town streets clear of horse manure, and is the result of neighbor complaints. The ordinance requires “[a] properly fitted collection device shall…
Nashville Islamic Center Claims Tax Rules Impose Unfair Burden
Guest Post by Tavo T. True-Alcala
The Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) recently filed a federal complaint and request for declaratory judgment against the State of Tennessee, the Metropolitan Trustee of Nashville, and the Tennessee State Board of Equalization after it was denied a request for retroactive property tax relief.
Since 1995, ICN has…