Floating Home Owner Scores Second Supreme Court Victory Against Riviera Beach, FL Today the Supreme Court issued an important decision in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, 585 U.S. ___ (2018).  The case does not involve land use or even free exercise of religion.  But it is still noteworthy because it deals with local government decision-making and citizens’ free speech rights under the First Amendment.  View Full Post
DOJ Rolls Out “Place to Worship” RLUIPA Initiative; Sues New Jersey Borough Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced its “Place to Worship Initiative” to help protect houses of worship and religious institutions against discrimination in the local land use process.  Attorney General Jefferson Sessions announced the new initiative and stated that President Trump “is an unwavering defender of the right of free exercise [of religion], and under his leadership, the Department of Justice is standing up for the rights of all Americans.”  The full statement reads: The Constitution doesn’t just protect freedom to worship in private – it protects the public exercise of religious belief, including where people worship together.  View Full Post
SCOTUS Rules Baker Who Refused Wedding Cake To Same-Sex Couple Suffered Religious Discrimination The Supreme Court issued its anticipated decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The case concerns a Colorado baker’s refusal to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple because the baker’s religious beliefs are that “God’s intention for marriage from the beginning of history is that and should be the union of one man and woman.”  The Supreme Court ruled that the proceedings conducted by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission deprived the baker of an impartial hearing because Commission members openly disparaged the baker’s religious views.  View Full Post
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed the lower court’s decision dismissing an Establishment Clause challenge over the approval of a religious center.  The lawsuit was brought by two residents who live near a mixed-use, two-story religious center proposed by Chabad of East Boca, Inc. View Full Post
A federal court in Maryland has found that a rabbi was without standing to bring claims under RLUIPA’s nondiscrimination and equal terms provisions, since those claims can be brought only by an “assembly” or “institution.”  While the court dismissed these claims, identical claims brought by a Jewish congregation – an assembly or institution under RLUIPA – continued. View Full Post
A federal court in Maryland recently rejected a church’s RLUIPA and related constitutional claims, finding that the religious group’s claimed harm was self-created.  The case demonstrates the importance of due diligence efforts in connection with developing property in the context of a religious land use controversy. View Full Post