Friday, July 22, 2016

Plaintiffs Lack Standing To Challenge Florida Chabad Center

In Gagliardi v. City of Boca Raton, (SD FL, July 21, 2016), a Florida federal district court dismissed on standing grounds a challenge by residents and taxpayers of Boca Raton to zoning changes by the city that permitted a Chabad (Hasidic Jewish) group to construct a religious center.  Plaintiffs, who identified themselves as Christians, claim that the city's actions violated the Establishment clause, the equal protection and due process clauses, and the Florida Constitution.  Dismissing the complaint, with leave to file an amended complaint, the court said in part:
Plaintiffs fail to allege any injury at all, let alone one that is concrete and particularized. The closest they come to asserting an injury is when they allege that the building is “injurious to residents in the area including” Plaintiffs.... This allegation is insufficient because it merely states in conclusory fashion that the building is “injurious” without specifying how it causes injury...
Rejecting plaintiff's claim of taxpayer standing, the court said in part:
The only expenditure they identify is the payment of salaries to City employees who allegedly “provided favorable treatment to one religious group.”... “Nearly all governmental activities are conducted or overseen by employees whose salaries are funded by tax dollars. To confer taxpayer standing on such a basis would allow any municipal taxpayer to challenge virtually any governmental action at anytime...."
Palm Beach Sun Sentinel reports on the decision.