A homeowner brought an action against the town, two churches, and a Roman Catholic Bishop, seeking a declaration that the town’s noise ordinance exemption for church bells was unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court held that the exemption encompassed performing and signaling bells—both secular and sectarian—and reflects New England’s historic legacy. Further, the court held the added exemption permitting bells linked to places of worship to ring as signaling devices without other limits “similarly seems well grounded in New England’s cultural tradition.” Therefore, the court “must acknowledge a practice that was accepted by the Framers and has withstood the critical scrutiny of time and political change.” The claim was dismissed.
Devaney v. Kilmartin, 2015 WL 631188 (D.R.I. Feb. 12, 2015).