Wednesday, August 22, 2007

9th Circuit Voids Settlement In Synagogue's RLUIPA Case

In League of Residential Neighborhood Advocates v. City of Los Angeles, (9th Cir., Aug. 21, 2007), the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's approval of a settlement agreement in a RLUIPA case that would have permitted a synagogue to operate in an area zoned for residential use. The appellate court agreed with neighbors of Congregation Etz Chaim that the settlement process cannot be used to evade state law requirements for notice and a hearing for the affected community before a conditional use permit is granted. Merely a potential violation of federal law is not reason enough. "Before approving any settlement agreement that authorizes a state or municipal entity to disregard its own statutes in the name of federal law, a district court must find that there has been or will be an actual violation of that federal law." Today's Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.