Tuesday, May 18, 2010

10th Circuit Upholds Church's RLUIPA Victory, Avoids Deciding Constitutionality of RLUIPA

In Rocky Mountain Christian Church v. Board of Commissioners of Boulder County, Colorado, (10th Cir., May 17,2010), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that sufficient evidence was presented at trial to justify the jury's determination that the denial of a special use application to Rocky Mountain Christian Church violated the equal terms and unreasonable limitations provisions of RLUIPA. It also upheld the permanent injunction that had been granted by the district court ordering the approval of the church's special use application. (See prior posting.) However the court avoided ruling on the issue seen by many as the more important question raised on appeal-- whether the substantial burden provisions of RLUIPA violate the Establishment Clause or exceed Congress' enforcement powers under Sec. 5 of the 14th Amendment. It was presumably that issue that had caused the Justice Department to intervene as a party in the case and over 25 organizations to join in a half dozen amicus briefs. AP reported on the decision.