RLUIPA Challenge Premature, Appeals Court Says

Lawlor, James
July 2005
Planning;Jul2005, Vol. 71 Issue 7, p50
Trade Publication
This article reports that in the latest of several RLUIPA challenges before the courts this year, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in late March, that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Murphy v. New Milford Zoning Commission. It declared that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act case of Robert and Mary Murphy was not yet ripe. Since 1994, the Murphys have hosted as many as 60 people at Sunday prayer meetings in their single-family house in New Milford, Connecticut. A zoning enforcement officer, responding to neighbors' complaints, reported finding from 13 to 20 cars in the couple's driveway and backyard and lining the cul-de-sac on Sundays. The town zoning commission issued a cease and desist order against the Murphys. The Murphys, contending that their religious beliefs require them to hold the meetings, sued in federal court, claiming that the town had violated their First Amendment free exercise rights, RLUIPA, and a state religious freedom act. The Murphys' case record does not reveal whether the cease and desist order reflected discriminatory enforcement of the zoning regulations, the court said.


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