District Court Grants TRO in Favor of Tennessee Mosque

On Wednesday, a federal district court in Tennessee ordered local officials to grant an occupancy permit to a controversial mosque in that state. Construction of the mosque, in the city of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, has been tied up in litigation for years; some neighbors have been very hostile, to put it politely, to the presence of a mosque in their city. The mosque’s opponents won a victory last month, when a state court barred the issuance of an occupancy permit for the mosque, ruling that the Rutherford County zoning board that had approved construction had violated the state’s open meetings law. The mosque and DOJ then sued the county in federal court, arguing that denial of the permit violated both the Free Exercise Clause and RLUIPA. On Wednesday, in the DOJ lawsuit, the federal court issued a TRO requiring the county to grant the occupancy permit in time for the start of Ramadan yesterday. For a detailed account of the litigation, see this article in the New York Times. The case is US v. Rutherford County (M.D. Tenn., July 18, 2012) (H/T: Religion Clause).

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