The synagogue filed suit based on federal law designed to protect religious institutions. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was enacted in 2000 in response to the unequal and often hostile treatment that religious institutions receive at the hands of local governments. RLUIPA requires that when a religious assembly’s practice of faith is substantially burdened by a land use decision, the government is held to the highest legal standard, having to demonstrate a “compelling interest.” Chabad Lubavitch lost in the lower court and subsequently filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Based on its expertise in RLUIPA litigation, the Pacific Justice Institute filed a friend of the court brief in support of the synagogue.
“Unfortunately this situation is not unusual. Whatever a congregation proposes, it is never good enough for local officials, who often counter with unreasonable and impossible demands,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “We are committed to helping religious institutions receive the protections provided under the law,” Dacus continued.
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