Sunday, December 15, 2019

Lighting Regulations Limiting Use of Catholic School's Baseball Field Do Not Violate RLUIPA

In Marianist Province of the United States v. City of Kirkwood, (8th Cir., Dec. 13, 2019), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a claim by Vianney High School in Kirkwood, Missouri that the city's lighting and sound regulations which limit use of its baseball field at night violate its rights under RLUIPA and state law.  The court said in part:
Vianney asserts that various forms of religious exercise “motivate the school’s use” of its baseball field at night. The school emphasizes that athletics is part of the “formation of young men” in the Catholic Marianist tradition and that nighttime sports games allow it to reach out to the community and engage in religious fellowship.... Assuming Vianney’s uses of its baseball field at night ... constitute religious exercise, we examine its claim that the regulations substantially burden this exercise.
Vianney has not demonstrated that its religious exercise is substantially burdened, rather than merely inconvenienced, by its inability to use its baseball field at night.
The court also rejected the school's RLUIPA "equal terms" claim, and held that its state law claims should be dismissed as well.