Micah’s Way v. City of Santa Ana (C.D. Cal.)
On May 9, 2023, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Micah’s Way v. City of Santa Ana (C.D. Cal.), a private lawsuit brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The complaint in the case alleges that the City of Santa Ana substantially burdened Micah’s Way’s religious exercise when it refused to grant a certificate of occupancy to allow Micah’s Way, a faith-based organization that provides services to persons that are homeless, to provide food and drinks to its clients in accordance with its religious beliefs. The City filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that feeding persons who are homeless is not religious exercise and that it did not substantially burden Micah’s Way’s religious exercise. The United States’ Statement of Interest responds to the City’s contentions and explains that feeding persons who are homeless may be religious exercise under RLUIPA and that the plaintiff had plausibly alleged that the City’s denial of its certificate of occupancy and threats of fines and criminal prosecution had substantially burdened its religious exercise, in violation of RLUIPA.