On Wednesday, October 31, 2018, I spent my Halloween exactly how every attorney would like to spend it: arguing an important case in front of a panel of three of the most distinguished federal judges in the country. The Honorable Judges Easterbrook, Flaum, and Brennan of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard my oral argument in the Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, IL.
This case was filed after the Markham City Council, on August 21, 2013, denied the Church a conditional use permit despite the fact that the Church 1) had already received occupancy approval for assemblies up the forty-five people, 2) had been worshipping at the property for ten years, 3) had improved its sanctuary at the direction of City inspectors, and 4) was willing to comply with whatever off-street parking restrictions the City sought to impose. While the City officials said they were concerned about whether the congregation of about 30 people had enough off-street parking, the Council rejected the Church’s simple request for time to comply with whatever off-street parking restrictions the City Council wanted to impose.
The suit challenges the City’s zoning scheme and zoning denial for unreasonably limiting religious assemblies, treating religious assemblies less favorably than nonreligious assemblies, and for substantially burdening the Church’s religious exercise without a compelling governmental interest–all violations of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq. The Seventh Circuit previously held in World Outreach Conference Center v. City of Chicago that off-street parking is a very minor issue that should be dealt with through less restrictive ways than shutting a religious organization down.
With oral argument complete, the panel of judges will now decide the appeal and issue a written ruling.
The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps accomplish your goals. Our collaborative approach has helped leaders like you grow businesses and banks, develop and expand churches, and build nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In my role as Administrative Bishop for the Church of God, quite often we are faced with issues that involve local governments and municipalities. Many of these issues that arise in dealing with entities are land use related. I have found Dalton & Tomich’s experience and expertise in this area to be a valuable resource and asset in every situation.
Never one time during a year-long litigation process did Dalton & Tomich demonstrate anything other than Christ-like professionalism. They managed the legal details, while we continued to do church. How they managed themselves, managed our case, and represented our church set the table for me and our church to be where we are today.
Dalton & Tomich’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. Their personal interest in helping us went “above and beyond” just the call of duty.