Friday, October 02, 2015

Most of Rabbinical College's Challenges To Land Use Restrictions Are To Proceed To Trial

In Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona, (SD NY, Sept. 29, 2015), a New York federal district court ruled on various motions in challenges to the land use ordinances of the Village of Pomona, New York that allegedly were adopted to prevent plaintiffs from constructing a planned rabbinical college. (See prior related posting.)  In a 145-page opinion, the court imposed limited sanctions on defendants for their destruction of a relevant Facebook posting:
Because Defendants concealed—and failed to disclose—the relevant Facebook post and potentially a portion of the accompanying text messages, the jury will be instructed that it may infer that the contents of the Facebook Post indicated discriminatory animus towards the Hasidic Jewish population. Defendants also will be precluded from offering evidence to rebut that specific inference, though they can still present evidence to indicate that the Challenged Laws were not adopted for discriminatory reasons.
The court went on to allow plaintiffs to proceed on their equal protection, free exercise, freedom of association, RLUIPA, Fair Housing Act and various state law challenges, denying motions by both parties for summary judgment.  However the court dismissed plaintiffs' free speech challenge, holding that "the fact that building a rabbinical college might enable religious speech does not render its construction speech itself."