Thursday, February 11, 2016

Suit Says Zoning Change To Permit Chabad Development Violated Establishment Clause

The South Florida Sun Sentinel  reported yesterday on an unusual lawsuit filed by two Christian residents of Boca Raton, Florida alleging secret arrangements between the city, a developer and Chabad of East Boca to allow Chabad to build a $10 million synagogue and museum on Boca Raton's barrier island. The complaint (full text) in Gagliardi v. City of Boca Raton, Florida, (SD FL, filed 2/8/2016), alleges that the arrangement, undertaken in response to public objections to Chabad's locating in a different area of the city, violated the Establishment Clause, the due process and equal protection clauses, and the state constitution. The complaint alleges that the change in the city code to permit Chabad to locate on the barrier island (followed by variances and other actions to further the project) was a "complete and and express violation of the prohibition of advancing, endorsing or promoting of religion as set forth in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution."