Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Justice Department Files Amicus Brief In Mosque Case To Argue That Islam Is A Religion

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday announced the rather unusual move of filing an amicus brief (full text) in a case pending in a state trial court. Estes v. Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission is a lawsuit in Rutherford County, Tennessee Chancery Court seeking to halt construction of a controversial Islamic center being built in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Plaintiffs in the case have argued, among other things, that Islam should be classified as a political or ideological movement, not a religion, and that the proposed mosque is not a house of worship. (See prior posting.) The Justice Department's brief counters these claims, arguing that Islam is a religion entitled to First Amendment protection and that the proposed Islamic Center and mosque is a place of religious assembly protected by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Reporting on the filing, AP quotes the Tennessee U.S. Attorney who said: "Plaintiffs' implication that Islam is not a recognized religion by the United States is wrong and is not supported by any authority whatsoever."