Weinstein Spoke on the Impact of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act at AALS on

Professor Alan Weinstein

On Saturday, January 7th, Professor Alan Weinstein spoke at Association of American Law Schools annual meeting.  The session was titled “The Impact of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act on State and Local Governments.”  Professor Weinstein’s paper focused on local governments and religious entities.  Professor Weinstein’s paper examined our now decade plus of experience with RLUIPA and concluded: (1) despite claims that the courts have been “flooded” with RLUIPA litigation, there have only been about 200 decided cases since the fall of 2000 (although the amount of threatened litigation giving rise to “settlements” and cases settled before any formal proceedings is larger); and (2) both state and federal courts have limited the reach of the statute by narrowly interpreting what comprises “religious exercise,” a “substantial burden” on religious exercise, and “land use regulation” for challenges brought under the “general rule” portion of the statute and by requiring that comparator uses meet stringent similarly situated requirements in equal terms challenges under the statute. Number (2) above demonstrates that what the statute effectively does is to “allow” — rather than “impose” — heightened scrutiny on land use decisions that would not have triggered heightened scrutiny absent RLUIPA. Other speakers in the session included March Hamilton (Cardozo) and Douglas Laycock (Virginia).

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