Thursday, January 04, 2007

Michigan Church Wins RLUIPA Challenge; Law's Constitutionality Upheld

In Lighthouse Community Church of God v. City of Southfield, Civil Case No. 05-40220 (ED MI, Jan. 3, 2007) [available on PACER], a Michigan federal district court held that Southfield, Michigan's denial of an occupancy certificate to Lighthouse Community Church violated RLUIPA. Southfield denied Lighthouse the right to operate a church in a building it owned because the building had too few parking spaces. An ordinance required a certain number of parking places, and Southfield refused to grant the church a variance. In its decision, the court upheld the constitutionality of the land use provisions of RLUIPA, finding them to be a valid exercise of Congress' powers under Sec. 5 of the 14th Amendment. The court rejected claims that RLUIPA violates the Establishment Clause and the 10th Amendment. Yesterday's Detroit Free Press reported on the decision. (See prior postings 1, 2.)

UPDATE: The decision is now available on LEXIS at 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28.