Federal judge puts decision against religious land use act on hold
Two months after U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 an unconstitutional "blunderbuss of a remedy," he agreed to reconsider his decision, the Los Angeles Times reports today.
Two years ago Elsinore Christian Center, working with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Alliance Defense Fund, sued the city of Lake Elsinore, California, after it was denied a conditional-use permit to move into a former grocery store.
Yesterday, Wilson said the church could pursue its lawsuit under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, avoiding questions of whether RLUIPA is constitutional.
Alliance Defense Fund counsel Robert H. Tyler told the Times that yesterday's decision "represents a major victory at this stage of the litigation."
It may be a victory for Elsinore Christian Center, but what does it mean for RLUIPA? Dozens of RLUIPA cases are working their way through the courts right now. The constitutionality question is going to have to be answered sooner or later—and probably will end up at the Supreme Court. Earlier, supporters of the church said they would appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Expect more coverage later at the websites of the Becket Fund and Alliance Defense Fund, as well as at the North County Times.
Let's take a brief respite from the Episcopal Church USA's implosion, shall we? For those of you desperate for more news on homosexuality and the church, Weblog will tomorrow be back to being the Bizzarro World version of The Advocate. (Sigh.)
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