Sunday, December 22, 2019

2nd Circuit: Rabbinical College Prevails In Part of Its Zoning Law Challenge

In Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona, (2d Cir., Dec. 29, 2019), the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in a 104-page opinion affirmed in part the judgment in favor of those supporting construction of a rabbinical school ("TRC") in a New York village.  The court found that plaintiffs had standing to bring their equal protection claim. It summarized its holding:
TRC and future students and faculty (collectively, “Tartikov”) filed this action against the Village and its board of trustees seeking to declare unconstitutional the two amendments enacted after its plans became known. In addition, it challenged two other amendments that had been passed earlier. After a bench trial, the district court found that all four zoning law amendments were tainted by religious animus, enjoined their enforcement, and entered a broad injunction sweeping away or modifying for these plaintiffs New York State and local laws that otherwise would apply. The Village challenges the decision below. Its central contention is that the findings of religious animus were clearly erroneous. Tartikov cross appeals from a number of pretrialrulings that limited the scope of its claims.
After careful consideration of the extensive record, we decline to overturn the district court’s findings that religious animus motivated the two zoning amendments passed after the plaintiffs’ wishes became known and thus affirm the injunction barring their enforcement. But we respectfully conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support such a finding as to either of the two earlier zoning amendments and therefore reverse that portion of the judgment. We conclude also that the injunctive relief went further than was appropriate and modify those aspects of the judgment as well. We affirm as to the cross-appeal.