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New Ruling Helps Ground Zero Mosque, Says Law Prof

A new ruling by a federal judge could dissuade any officials in New York City thinking of trying to stop or even delay the construction of a mosque near ground zero, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

PRLog - Aug. 19, 2010 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new ruling by a federal judge that a New York town violated a federal statute barring religious discrimination in land use decisions by placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of plans to construct a house of worship, and that it will be liable for financial damages as well as be subject to sanctions, could help dissuade any officials in New York City thinking of trying to stop or even delay the construction of a mosque near ground zero, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School.

Southern District Judge Stephen C. Robinson ruled that Greenburgh, NY, used alleged concerns about safety, fire, and traffic as mere pretexts to prevent or delay the construction of a Pentecostal church, a move he said violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA, 42 usc 2000cc).  He said that the town's "purported concerns were unsupported, if not wholly fabricated."

This decision is both timely and important, says Banzhaf, because the First Amendment almost certainly prevents government officials from blocking the construction of a mosque near ground zero based upon its intended use as a place of worship - the very factor which seems to outrage so many who think it is inappropriate for Islamic worship to occur near where Islamic extremists killed so many people.

In such circumstances, suggests Banzhaf, those opposed to the construction of the mosque might try to fabricate environmental, safety, health, traffic, and other similar concerns, hoping to so significantly delay the project, and drain the coffers of its proponents, that it would have to be abandoned.

The new federal Greenburgh precedent suggests that such tactics would be unproductive, and might well backfire in terms of enormous financial penalties, and a federal injunction blocking any further delaying efforts.

Prof. Banzhaf takes no position on whether the mosque should be constructed at this location.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418

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Source:Public Interest Law Prof. John Banzhaf of GWU Law
City/Town:Washington - District of Columbia - United States
Industry:Government, Legal, Religion
Tags:mosque, ground zero, ruling, judge, penalties, banzhaf, religious freedom, greenburgh
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