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Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield v. City of Springfield

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
724 F.3d 78 (2013)


Facts

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield (RCB) (plaintiff) closed a church in the City of Springfield (defendant). Before RCB sells or leases a closed church, it deconsecrates the church, meaning either the person buying or leasing it agrees not to use the property for “sordid” purposes, or RCB must remove all religious symbols possible and cover the rest with concrete. Because RCB had recently closed another church that was demolished, concerned parishioners and the Springfield Historical Commission (SHC) pushed through an ordinance designating the closed church a single-parcel historic district. The ordinance required RCB to apply for SHC’s approval before making any changes to the church’s exterior. RCB sued, claiming the ordinance violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, C.J.)

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