Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Justice Department Sues Under RLUIPA Challenging Mosque Zoning Denial

Yesterday the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act against Bernards Township, New Jersey over the town's refusal to grant zoning approval for construction of a mosque. (DOJ press release). The complaint (full text) in United States v. Township of Bernards, New Jersey, (D NJ, filed 11/22/2016), contends that:
The mosque proposal met with vociferous public opposition. Flyers, social media, and websites denounced the mosque and were filled with anti-Muslim bigotry and references to terrorism and the 9/11 attacks....
The Planning Board ultimately held thirty-nine public hearings over three and a half years. The Planning Board had never held such a large number of hearings for any previous site plan application.... Since at least 1994, this was the first time that the Planning Board had denied a site plan application for a house of worship.