Catholic Diocese’s RLUIPA and First Amendment Claims Over Proposed Cemetery Allowed to Proceed: Part 6, Equal Terms Claim Under RLUIPA

This is the sixth post in our series looking at the long-running dispute between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Center and the Village of Old Westbury over the Diocese’s proposed cemetery. Today’s post focuses on the equal terms claim brought under RLUIPA.

The second RLUIPA claim that the Court examined was whether the defendants treated the plaintiff on “less than equal terms than a nonreligious assembly or institution.”  Specifically, this provision of RLUIPA provides that “no government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.”

Regarding this provision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the application of different land use regimes is not per se a violation, noting that the application of zoning codes to a church and school are necessarily different, but not necessarily unequal. Here, it was found the Diocese had failed to identify a comparable specular institution that was treated more favorably, and that the entities it did name were either not comparable or not an “institution or assembly.” Thus the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the equal terms claim was granted.

The next post in this series will look at the Diocese’s §1983 retaliation claim.

The case is The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, v. The Incorporated Village Of Old Westbury, 2015 WL 5178126 (E.D.N.Y.)

Powered by 123ContactForm | Report abuse