Tuesday, June 10, 2003

It's a moot point now, but ...

In the hoo-hah over Maplewood's settlement with the LDS Church, Mr. Profeta and Mr. Grodman (and, during the TC debate, Ms. Leventhal and Mr. Pettis) kept repeating the litany that a federal appeal would likely overturn RLUPA (The Religious Land Use Protection Act) that was the basis for the Mormon's lawsuit. IANAL*, but it's my understanding that a court decision in one federal circuit does NOT necessarily make it a settled precedent for other circuits. The case they kept referring to is in the Chicago area, and thus heard in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. We, here in New Jersey, are in the 3rd Circuit; i.e., only an appeal in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals would be precedent-setting for the LDS' case against Maplewood. To set a precedent for our case, an appeal would have to be brought in the 3rd circuit, and the obvious candidate would have to be ... US. Even if the case in Chicago overturns RLUPA, it might well result in a further appeal to the US Supreme Court. Even if not, a 3rd circuit case such as ours might well go the opposite way, and then the Supreme Court might NEED to get involved, to reconcile the conflicting appellate decisions. It could have cost the Township - i.e., US again - several hundred thousands dollars.

In any case, the assertions of the Mr. Profeta and the "fredayeen," that we ought to have waited because the Chicago case might put us in a better bargaining position vis-a-vis the LDS Church, were disengenuous at best.

*IANAL = I Am Not A Lawyer

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