Thursday, March 21, 2019

Repeal of Ban On Use of Civic Center For Worship Services Moots Injunctive Relief, But Not Damages

In Redeemer Fellowship of Edisto Island v. Town of Edisto Beach, South Carolina, (D SC, March 18, 2019), a South Carolina federal district court held that a church's request for injunctive relief was moot. The church initially rented space in the town's Civic Center for its worship services.  Subsequently the town changed its rules to bar renting of space for use for religious services. The church sued, and the town rescinded the ban. The church failed to show that the town might reinstate the ban.  The court said in part:
Although the resolution moots Redeemer Fellowship’s request for injunctive relief, it does not moot the church’s request for damages or for declaratory relief. Redeemer Fellowship’s prayer for relief asks that the court declare that the Town engaged in content-based discrimination and violated the church’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments..... Redeemer Fellowship’s damages claim—the success of which depends on the court declaring that its constitutional rights were violated by the Town’s ban on religious worship services—survives this order. The court leaves it to the parties to determine whether or not Redeemer Fellowship did in fact suffer any damages by the Town’s prohibition of the church’s use of the Civic Center for their worship services from May 2018, when the church’s application for use of the Center was denied, until December 2018, when the Town rescinded the ban.