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Marks v. City of Chesapeake

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
883 F.2d 308 (1989)


Steven Marks (plaintiff) sought for his residential property to be rezoned for commercial use so that he could operate a palmistry business. The City of Chesapeake (the city) (defendant) approved the zoning change through the city council but informed Marks that the city’s licensing ordinance further required Marks to obtain a conditional-use permit to operate a palmistry. Marks applied for the permit. No members of the public opposed, and the Chesapeake City Planning Commission approved the permit. However, when Marks sought final approval from the city council, some local residents for the first time voiced their opposition to the palmistry business based on religious grounds. After hearing this opposition, the city council denied Marks’s permit. Marks brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages on the ground that the city had violated his substantive due-process rights. Marks argued that the denial of the permit was arbitrary and capricious and thus a deprivation of property without due process of law. At trial, two members of the city council testified that the religious opposition had swayed their decision. The planning director testified that there would have been no adverse effects to the neighborhood from the palmistry business. The district court found for Marks, holding that the city had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the permit. The city appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Phillips, J.)

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