Statement of Interest in Chai Center for Living Judaism v. Township of Millburn (D.N.J.)
On December 4, 2023, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Chai Center for Living Judaism v. Township of Millburn (D.N.J.), a case brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). After the township denied an Orthodox Jewish congregation’s application to build a synagogue on res judicata grounds, the congregation filed the complaint in this case, alleging that the denial imposed a substantial burden on the congregation’s religious exercise, discriminated against the congregation based on its religion, unreasonably limited its religious assembly, and treated it worse than comparable secular uses. The township filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the RLUIPA claims should be dismissed based on a state-law standard of review for zoning appeals and that the RLUIPA claims are not ripe because the zoning denial was based on procedural grounds. In its Statement of Interest, the United States explains that state-law standards of review do not apply to RLUIPA claims and that the RLUIPA claims are ready to be adjudicated because the township reached a final decision on the zoning application, which has harmed plaintiffs.