Yesterday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Elijah Group v. City of Leon Valley, Texas. This case has a significant impact on religious land use matters within the Fifth Circuit adn throughout the nation. Elijah Group, Inc. (“Church”) sued the City of Leon Valley (“City”) alleging that the City’s prohibition of the Church from performing religious services on certain properties violated Texas state law, the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc(b)(1), and both the Texas and U.S. Constitutions. At issue was whether the district court properly dismissed the Church’s claims under the Equal Terms Clause of the RLUIPA. The court held that the City’s imposition of its land use regulation violated the Equal Terms Clause where the ordinance treated the Church on terms that were less than equal to the terms on which it treated similarly situated nonreligious institutions. Accordingly, the district court’s order granting the City’s motion for summary judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings. The importance of this case cannot be understated for pending religious land use matters within the Fifth Circuit. This is a terrific case for religious institutions nationwide.
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.