Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal In Livingston Christian School Lawsuit
May 2, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from a local religious school in its lawsuit against Genoa Township.
Livingston Christian Schools filed a lawsuit in 2015 against the township for its refusal to grant a special use permit that would have allowed the school to relocate to the Brighton Church of the Nazarene. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier ruled in favor of a lower court that the lawsuit had no merit, dismissing it. The First Liberty Institute has been representing LCS at the appellate level and filed a petition for a re-hearing, which was denied. An appeal was then filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced Monday it will not review the case.
First liberty Institute issued a statement calling it a “deeply disappointing decision, not only because of what it means for our clients, but because it will embolden other cities and towns across the country to keep religious organizations from contributing to their community. Federal law expressly prohibits the government from using zoning laws to keep religious institutions out of their town. We are extremely disappointed the Supreme Court will allow this terrible precedent to stand.”
When the permit was initially denied by the township, there was an outcry from officials and parents from both LCA and Light of the World Academy (LOTWA), a formerly private religious-based Montessori school that obtained authorization to re-open as a public charter school. The academy planned to move into the old LCS facility once that school moved to Brighton Church of the Nazarene. In its previous dismissal of the appeal, the 6th U.S. Circuit panel said the school was not substantially burdened within the meaning of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
LCS has been renting space from the Whitmore Lake Schools district during the legal process but has since worked out things at the township level and plans to move into space at The Naz. It submitted revised plans and a proposal for a K-12 school there that better aligns with township ordinances and requirements, which was approved by the board last year. Traffic concerns were among past issues, which have been addressed and the school is expected to occupy the new space this fall. (JM)