Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 31, 2013

Fed. Dist. Ct. in CA Holds that Fortune Teller’s RLUIPA Claims Were Not Ripe

In response to a municipal code (S.M.C.) requiring fortune tellers to obtain a license in order to operate within city limits, Davis filed complaint alleging that the City’s licensing requirements are unduly burdensome, intrusive and restrictive and therefore in violation of her freedom to exercise her religious rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and they are in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a).

The District Court in granting defendant City’s motion to dismiss, found that the claim was not ripe for review. The alleged First Amendment violation claim was not ripe because Davis did not allege a concrete plan to violate the City’s license requirements and operate her business without one. In fact, her complaint only alleges that at the request of her clients, she seeks to provide spiritual counseling within the city limits. Her plans were not concrete, but rather have “some day” intentions. Furthermore, the court found no credible threat of enforcement of the municipal code because she was not threatened with prosecution, or that prosecution is likely or even possible.

Under the RLUIPA claim, Davis alleged that the S.M.C. places a substantial burden on her religious beliefs and her ability to practice those beliefs without using the least restrictive means.  The Court, however, dismissed this claim for lack of ripeness as  Davis never actually applied for the license since at some point she abandoned the process, citing her averments in her complaints. Because an application was not filed, the Court was unable to determine and analyze the way in which the license is issued, or how the ordinance is applied to the plaintiff.

Davis v. City of Selma, 2013 WL 335443 (ED CA. 7/2/2013)

The opinion can be accessed at:

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