Catholic Diocese’s RLUIPA and First Amendment Claims Over Proposed Cemetery Allowed to Proceed: Part 8, Remaining Claims and Final Rulings

This is the eighth and final 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 remaining claims and the Court’s final rulings.  

In addition to the issues discussed in the previous posts, there were also motions for summary judgment on several more minor claims for the Court to dispose of. First, the Diocese’s Equal Protection claim was dismissed on the grounds that the Diocese failed to show sufficient evidence upon which a jury could find the POW Law was motivated by anti-religious intent, as a showing of purposeful discrimination by the Defendants is required. The Court did find, however, that the evidence cited may still be relevant to the RLUIPA claims. In addition, the Dioceses Fourth Amendment claim for warrantless search was allowed to proceed as the parties disputed whether the official had ever entered the premises to conduct an inspection. Finally, the Court found that the assertions of absolute and qualified immunity were not ripe for determination given the outstanding issues of material fact preventing a finding regarding the reasonableness of the Defendant officials’ actions.

In summary, the Claims which were allowed to proceed to trial were the: (1) RLUIPA substantial burden claim, (2) as-applied constitutional challenge to the POW Law, (3) First Amendment free exercise of religion claim, (4) Section 1983 retaliation claim, and (5) Section 1983 unlawful search 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.)

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