NYC Churches — in schools — new development

From NYTimes by Andy Newman:

Updated, 2:27 p.m. | Churches that are fighting to continue to hold worship services in city public schools won a 10-day reprieve on Thursday when a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the city’s ban.

The church case appeared dead after the United States Supreme Courtrefused in December to hear it. But in papers filed this month, the plaintiff in the case, the Bronx Household of Faith, took a different legal tack. And the judge, Loretta A. Preska of Federal District Court in Manhattan, held thatbecause the church had demonstrated “a likelihood of success” on the merits of the new claim, the order was warranted. (See second document below.)

Judge Preska, the district court’s chief judge, had ruled in favor of the churches before, only to have her decision overturned by an appellate panel.

The church’s original and unsuccessful claim held that the ban violated its free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

The new papers (see first document below) argue that the ban violated the amendment’s free exercise clause, which broadly forbids government to interfere in religious activities.


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  • The new legal basis makes so much more sense, from my POV, than the prior basis. I wonder if they got a new attorney, or got new advice? The judgment of the court regarding consecration of the “space” made little sense, because a secular court shouldn’t recognize “consecration”, by secular legal standards. The issue seemed to bear more on discriminatory allotment of the space, based on religious usage. I’d appreciate hearing from any attorneys who might have followed it, since my background is strictly ADR.

  • Blake

    Can someone explain why this is an issue in NYC? Don’t they let other organizations rent the school space too? Why are the churches the ones getting the boot?

  • Richard

    @ That’s really the only relevant issue in my mind. School’s either rent to religious organizations or they don’t – whether it’s Christian or not is irrelevant. The issue hinges on consistency of application imo.