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RLUIPA Unconstitutional?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was passed by Congress on July 27, 2000 and signed into law by President Clinton. The law requires that government, including local municipalities, employ a "compelling interest/least restrictive means" test when dealing with faith-based groups and practices. Its specific applications are for zoning rules (it's hard to keep the mega church out of your backyard) and for prisoners rights (yes, they get to have everything they want, if they can invent a religious reason for it.)

    Since its passage, RLUIPA has been upheld a number of times. However, the decision in the Virginia district court recently held RLUIPA <a href="http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/blog_data/madisonriter.pdf">unconstitutional</a>(PDF Document). Senior U.S. District Judge James Turk ruled that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 "has the principal or primary effect of advancing religious belief." The law prohibits the government from restricting inmates' freedom of religion unless the government has a compelling reason to do so. Turk wrote that it thus violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which has been interpreted to mean that the government cannot promote a certain religion. The judge then certified the decision for direct appeal to the Fourth Circuit.

    Given the different interpretations, all based on the Constitution, and the liking of the present Supreme Court for First Amendment jurisprudence, pundits are predicting that this case will end up in the Supreme Court. RLUIPA's proponents say it makes sure that local governments don't interfere with their religious rights. RLUIPA's opponents claim that it gives a huge and unfair advantage to religions, and clearly promotes religion. So, what should be the outcome, and on an unrelated note, what's likely to be the actual outcome of this challenge?
  2. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    I'd enjoy hearing your opinion first, oh wise one.

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