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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ind. Decisions - In Illinois case, 7th Circuit rules that church cemetary will not stand in the way of airport expansion

In St. John’s United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, a 54-page, 2-1 opinion issued today, Judge Wood writes, inter alia:

We are not persuaded by the district court’s brief dicta in Cottonwood that eminent domain is always and inevitably a land use regulation under RLUIPA. Given the importance of eminent domain as a governmental power affecting land use, we think that if Congress had wanted to include eminent domain within RLUIPA, it would have said something. Indeed, before federal law (even under the Spending Clause) starts interfering with the fundamental state power of eminent domain, it is likely that we would need a clear statement from Congress. See, e.g., Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65 (1989) (“[I]f Congress intends to alter the usual constitutional balance between the States and the Federal Government, it must make its intention to do so unmistakably clear in the language of the statute.”) (internal quotation omitted). Congress did not mention eminent domain in so many words in RLUIPA’s definition of a land use regulation, which is enough for us to consider it excluded.
The decision is also featured today in Robert Loblaw's Decision of the Day.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 13, 2007 06:54 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions