Thursday, April 07, 2016

Court Says Minister Can Move Ahead With Challenge To Ban on His Transitional Housing Project

Martin v. Houston, (MD AL, April 6, 2016), involves an attempt by the Alabama legislature to close down a transitional housing arrangement consisting of a group of mobile homes for male sex offenders being released from prison.  The facility was set up by a Christian minister who imposed behavior standards on residents and required them to attend church services. The Alabama legislature passed a statute tailored only to apply to this facility. The law, whose coverage was limited to one county, declared a facility where more than one sex offender lived together to be a public nuisance.  In a suit by the minister operating the facility, an Alabama federal district court held that plaintiff had adequately alleged free exercise, bill of attainder and due process claims.  It held that the complaint had not adequately alleged a RLUIPA violation because the law does not involve government making individualized assessments of proposed property use.