International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

Acronym of the Day – RLUIPA | September 19, 2011

As local government lawyers, most of us are familiar with RLUIPA and what keeps us up at night is the question: What do institutionalized persons have to do with religious land use? [RLUIPA – Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act].

Well, it may be a while before we get an answer to that particular question, but the question trail doesn’t end there. IMLA joined an certiorari-stage amicus effort in City of San Leandro v. Int’l Church of the Foursquare Gospel. [Read Ninth Circuit decision here] [Read San Leandro’s cert petition brief here]

It’s an interesting case, and if SCOTUS grants cert, it might be the case that clears up some of the ambiguity of RLUIPA. The Questions Presented in the cert petition are:

1. Whether cost and/or inconvenience can be sufficient for a religious landowner to prove that an adverse land use or zoning decision imposes a “substantial burden” under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a)(1) (2006).

2. Whether case-by-case analysis of a land use application constitutes an “individualized assessment” under the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc(a)(2)(C) (2006).

3. Whether neutral, generally applicable planning principles may be a “compelling interest” of local governments under the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C.
§2000cc(a)(1)(A) (2006).

See IMLA’s amicus submission here.


Posted in Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I am the Town Attorney for Surfside, Florida- the place where the Midrash Sephardi/Young Israel case eminated (before my tenure). Although we adopted a RLUIPA overlay district we created after I got here specifically to remediate what were prior bad acts of the Town, Young Israel has sued once again, because, among other things, the Town would not now pass legislation that would allow variances and a height that violates a charter restriction in a built out environment. Learned counsel for Young Israel’s truly believes he can get the Court to enjoin us from imposing this alleged substantial burden. The Town of course believes it must abide by its charter and the congregants should have checked the underlying land use before purchasing the property. Of course, I have oversimplied this recitation of facts and legal positions for blog purposes but this is essentially it. We need the Supreme Court to answer this question and I will follow this with great interest.

    Comment by Lynn Dannheisser — October 6, 2011 @ 3:03 pm


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This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.

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