Editor’s Note: The following information appears in the USDOJ’s March 2017 Religious Freedom Focus Newsletter available: https://www.justice.gov/crt/religious-freedom-focus-volume-69-march2017#rluipa
On March 10, a federal court in Michigan approved a settlement of the United States’ suit against the City of Sterling Heights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which alleged that the city illegally denied a mosque approval to build in the city.
The United States had filed suit on December 15 alleging that the city discriminated against the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) on the basis of religion when it denied AICC zoning approval for a mosque. The suit also alleged that the denial imposed a “substantial burden” on AICC’s religious exercise in violation of RLUIPA. The AICC, currently located in Madison Heights, Michigan, sought the Sterling Heights location because it is more centrally located for its members and its current space has become too small to accommodate its worship, educational and social needs.