Weinstein on RLUIPA’s Effect on Local Governments

Alan C. Weinstein (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University) has posted The Effect of RLUIPA’s Land Use Provisions on Local Governments. The abstract follows.

In the absence of perfect information about how RLUIPA has affected local governments, this article argues that the courts have adopted a pragmatic approach to maneuvering in the difficult terrain that RLUIPA occupies: combining appropriate judicial deference to a legislature that enacts a neutral law of general applicability with the heightened judicial scrutiny that becomes appropriate when that same law is applied to a specific zoning approval, a circumstance that frequently allows for subjectivity, and thus the potential for discrimination or arbitrariness against religious uses, in the approval process. I conclude that: (1) until proven otherwise, the costs RLUIPA undoubtedly imposes on local governments is the price to be paid for insuring against the discriminatory or arbitrary application of land use regulations and (2) RLUIPA does not seek to establish an unconstitutional preference for religious uses, but rather a proper accommodation of religious exercise in the land use context.

Raccuia on RLUIPA and Burdens of Proof

Thomas E. Raccuia (student at Fordham University School of Law) has posted RLUIPA and Exclusionary Zoning: Government Defendants Should Have the Burden of Persuasion in Equal Terms Cases. The abstract follows.

Zoning and other land use regulations are often used to hinder the operation of religious institutions or the construction of their facilities. In 2000, Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which protects religious land use. RLUIPA’s Equal Terms provision forbids governments from imposing land use regulations that treat religious institutions on less than equal terms with secular institutions.

Despite the apparent clarity of the statutory language, federal circuit courts have disagreed over the allocation of burdens of proof in Equal Terms cases. Some circuits have held that religious plaintiffs have the burden of persuasion, while others have held that the burden of persuasion falls on government defendants.  Read more