Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Muslim Organization Gets Rulings In Its Favor In Zoning Challenge

In an opinion covering two suits-- one by a Sufi Muslim religious organization and the other by the United States--, an Illinois federal district court concluded that the city of Des Plaines, Illinois may well have violated RLUIPA and the 1st and 14th Amendments, as well as state law, in denying a zoning amendment that would allow the Muslim group to use property it had purchased for religious and educational purposes.  In Society of American Bosnians and Herzegovinians v. City of DesPlaines, (ND IL, Feb. 26, 2017), the court denied summary judgment to both sides, but concluded that a reasonable fact finder could infer that the City imposed a substantial burden on the religious organization's free exercise of religion and that the city's parking concerns did not constitute a compelling interest. The court also concluded that the city violated RLUIPA's equal terms provision, and that there is a genuine dispute on whether the city acted with discriminatory intent. Cook County Record reports on the decision.