Friday, September 17, 2021

Satanic Temple Loses Fight Over City's Revocation Of Display Permit

In The Satanic Temple v. City of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, (D MN, Sept. 15, 2021), a Minnesota federal district court dismissed the promissory estoppel claim by The Satanic Temple (TST) growing out of Belle Plaine's rescission of a resolution allowing private groups to place displays in a city park. The city had originally created a limited public forum for private displays honoring veterans, and TST had received a permit to do so. The court said in part:

Here, as addressed, TST received the benefit of Belle Plaine’s alleged promise: TST had a limited-time opportunity, for nearly four months, to display its monument in Veterans Memorial Park. That Belle Plaine terminated TST’s permit early was both authorized by the Enacting Resolution and understood by TST as a possibility when TST applied for a permit. Any contrary expectation held by TST when relying on Belle Plaine’s alleged promise would have been unreasonable. There also is no allegation or evidence that Belle Plaine was unjustly enriched. The only money Belle Plaine received from TST was a $100 permit fee, which Belle Plaine reimbursed to TST. In addition, as addressed, the evidence reflects that TST was not financially harmed and there is no evidence of reputational harm.

The court upheld a magistrate's refusal to allow TST to belatedly amend its complaint to allege free speech, free exercise, equal protection claims and due process claims. Similar claims were previously dismissed. The court also imposed sanctions, in the form of the city's attorney's fees, against TST for maintaining a frivolous lawsuit.