Steven Rother Quoted in Article About Federal Religious Land Use Law

April 13, 2017

Steven C. Rother, a member at Post Polak, was recently quoted in an article concerning the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (or RLUIPA, as the statute is commonly known). The article, titled “While Mosque Suits Proliferate, Lawyers Fear Retreat by Feds,” ran in the April 3, 2017 edition of the New Jersey Law Journal.

Congress enacted RLUIPA more than fifteen years ago, back in September 2000. Since then, Mr. Rother has represented religious groups in a number of lawsuits brought to enforce the statute’s limitation on the ability of state and local governments to apply land use laws in any manner that unjustly burdens houses of worship. Not only can religious groups bring lawsuits to enforce RLUIPA, so too can the federal government, as the statute explicitly authorizes the United States Attorney General to file or join in such a lawsuit.

As noted in the article, it remains to be seen whether the federal government, under President Donald J. Trump, will continue to take an active role in lawsuits alleging that a municipality has violated RLUIPA by applying its land use laws in an unjustly burdensome manner when considering an application to construct a new mosque. But this much is certain—so certain that Mr. Rother offered the following quote for the article. The federal government’s participation in RLUIPA lawsuits “very quickly brings them to an end,” and if the federal government retreats from such participation, “it’s going to be a greater burden for houses of worship because they’re going to have to carry it to the end.”