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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

City Council Members Immune from Religious Land Use Lawsuit

Dwight Merriam and Evan Seeman, authors of the RLUIPA Defense blog, have posted a summary of a recent decision by the Northern District of Illinois granting a municipality's motion to dismiss individual City Council members from the lawsuit based on legislative immunity.  The American Islamic Center had filed suit against the City and five members of the City Council after their rezoning application was denied.  The AIC argued that the City Council members’ actions were administrative or executive in nature and not entitled to immunity, as opposed to legislative acts taken in their legislative capacity which are entitled to immunity.  In concluding that the City Council members were acting legislatively, thus entitling the members to absolute legislative immunity, the District Court observed:
There is no question that the denial of the proposed zoning amendment had its most direct and immediate impact on AIC.  But the impact of the denial was not limited to AIC.  It also affected the property’s owner, who lost the opportunity to sell the property to AIC.  In addition, the property that AIC wished to buy will remain zoned for manufacturing activity regardless of who comes to own it, unless and until the city council’s actions are properly characterized as legislative, not executive or administrative.  When the council denied the zoning amendment and passed the later resolution rejecting the amendment, it was engaging in legislative acts.
You can read the entire summary of the case on the RLUIPA Defense blog here:  
Full Disclosure - Ancel Glink is defending the City and City Council members in this lawsuit.


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