Friday, November 02, 2012

Church Gets Preliminary Injunction Under RLUIPA Against Zoning Ban

In Opulent Life Church v. City of Holly Springs, Mississippi, (ND MS, Nov. 1, 2012), in a case on remand from the 5th Circuit (see prior posting) a Mississippi federal district court granted a TRO and a preliminary injunction against enforcement of a total zoning ban on religious congregations in the area where plaintiff church's property is located. Invoking the "equal terms" provision of RLUIPA, the court, echoing the 5th Circuit, held that the city's justification of the ban as creating a commercial district fails because it permits other non-commercial, non-tax generating uses in the area. The court also concluded that the threatened injury to the church outweighs any harm the city will suffer from the temporary injunction. Liberty Institute issued a press release announcing the decision.