Thursday, November 10, 2011

Texas City's Food Ordinance May Infringe Group's Religious Liberty

In Big Hart Ministries Association, Inc. v. City of Dallas, (ND TX, Nov. 4, 2011), religious groups that drive around the city of Dallas looking for homeless individuals with whom to share food challenged the city's Food Establishments Ordinance. They contend that by requiring a pre-approved location for groups that feed the homeless, the Ordinance restricts their ability to practice their religious beliefs that call for spontaneous sharing of food and for seeking out the hungry in hard to reach locations. The court concluded that plaintiffs had alleged enough that a reasonable jury might find a substantial burden on plaintiffs' free exercise of religion in violations of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The court therefore denied the city's motion for summary judgment.