Saturday, August 01, 2020

Satanic Temple Has Promissory Estoppel Claim After Its Permit To Erect Memorial Was Voided

In The Satanic Temple v. City of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, (D MN, July 31, 2020), a Minnesota federal district court dismissed free exercise, free speech and equal protection claims by the Satanic Temple which objected to the city's Resolution 17-090 which rescinded a prior resolution that created a limited public forum in Veterans Memorial Park. The earlier resolution allowed individuals and organizations to erect and maintain privately owned displays to honor local veterans and veterans' organizations. The Satanic Temple had received a permit to erect a display, and spent substantial amounts for its design and construction, before the rescission. It argues that the rescission came about because of the controversial nature of its display.  The court said in part:
[A]lthough TST identifies the core tenants of its religion, TST fails to explain or allege facts that identify any central tenet of its religious beliefs that TST cannot exercise because of Resolution 17-090. Second, TST alleges no facts demonstrating that Resolution 17-090 prevents TST from expressing adherence to its faith. And third, TST fails to allege whether and how any activity that Resolution 17-090 prohibits is fundamental to TST’s religion.
The court however allowed Satanic Temple to move ahead with its promissory estoppel claim, saying in part:
TST sufficiently alleges that Belle Plaine should have reasonably expected that TST would expend time and resources to construct a display after receiving approval and that TST in fact expended such time and resources.
Finally, TST alleges sufficient facts that enforcement of Belle Plaine’s promise may be necessary to avoid injustice.