Zoning Disputes Between Religious Groups and Local Governments Require Constitutional Standards

May 18, 2001

Source: The Seattle Times


On May 18, 2001, The Seattle Times published an opinion piece on the clash between the rights of religious groups to build houses of worship and the efforts of local governments to limit growth. "The Free Exercise Clause protects religious practice from governmental interference but is limited by laws that are passed for compelling government reasons...Federal courts have made notable shifts in the application of the compelling-interest test, broadly applying this strict standard in some cases but narrowing the scope in others...Without constitutional standards or framework that provides guidance for policymakers and lower courts, the search for solid constitutional footing appears to be an effort in futility."