June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019

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June 24, 2019

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Supreme Court Refuses to Take Tree of Life RLUIPA Case

Last week, the United States Supreme Court denied Tree of Life Christian Schools’ petition for certiorari involving its longstanding religious dispute with Upper Arlington, Ohio (City).  In 2009, Tree of Life purchased a commercially-zoned 254,000 square foot office building that it hoped to convert to a religious school.  After the City denied a conditional use permit, Tree of Life sued under RLUIPA.  The Sixth Circuit ruled that the City did not treat Tree of Life worse than secular uses in violation of RLUIPA’s equal terms provision, since the City had a valid basis for denial: permitting the religious school in this large office building would be counter to the City’s goal of enhancing revenue generation in this zoning district..

There was some speculation that the Court could take the case.  Bloomberg Law previewed Tree of Life’s petition in its story Supreme Court Shortlister’s Dissent Could Help Christian School in which I am quoted.  Tree of Life argued in its petition that the Court should take its case because lower courts across the country “are in disarray on the proper test for a RLUIPA equal-terms claim.” In the end, clarification of the equal terms provision is left for another day.

Tree of Life’s petition is available here.

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About this Author

Evan Seeman Land Use Lawyer
Councel

Evan Seeman concentrates his practice in land use and zoning, real property litigation, and municipal law. He is a member of the firm’s Real Estate + Development Group, and he represents developers, landowners, municipalities, corporations, and advocacy groups.

Religious Land Use Litigation

Evan defends municipalities nationwide in cases involving the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). He advises municipalities on religious land use issues by:

  • Revising municipal zoning codes to comply with RLUIPA;
  • ...
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