Bishop McDonnell Explains. 1.

Okay, we've been showing the defenses of the City to allegations raised by Bishop McDonnell in Jan. of 2010.

Essentially, the Bishop charges the City with discrimination: he feels that the ordinance placing Our Lady of Hope church into a historic district unfairly targets the Catholic church. The Bishop alleges  an offense against First Amendment rights protecting the freedom of religion.

The City mounted a vigorous defense.  We've been giving the city's point of view in the last post, which was a long summary of Paper 25.

We now turn to the Bishop's position, and use the reasoning in several court papers (as argued by the diocesan law firm) to explain why he is taking this action, why he feels the City's position is in error, and what he hopes to gain from the suit.

In the course of his explanation, the Bishop touches on two previous suits: One is the Mintz case, and the other is the Donoghue Quadrangle case.  Although these are not the main focus, the case law and legal briefs from them pop up now and again and it is interesting to read something about these cases, since they document a history of confrontation between the city and diocese (in the Quadrangle case) and show how RLUIPA works (in the Mintz case). We provide a few links.

The Donoghue Quadrangle case involved the creation of a historic district in Springfield.  It was one of the first, I do believe, in 1972.  During this creation, the City excluded two properties from the ordinance. However, they did not identity the properties by name, but rather by their owners: one was the Diocese of Springfield, and one was a museum association of Springfield.  The method of identifying the buildings by their owners rather than otherwise seems now to have been a serious misstep, because it led to a lot of litigation.
The other interesting thing about this case is the dissenting opinion of Judge Ireland, given at around section 426 or so. He agreed that the ordinance, including exemptions, should be upheld as written, but also felt that the exemptions should not have been allowed in the first place.

link: Donoghue Quadrangle Case

The other case is called Mintz v. Bishop of Springfield.
This one concerns the desire of St. Ann's church in Lenox, Ma. to erect a parish center on property they owned. This was objected to by neighbors on the grounds of increased traffic, inconvenience, etc. What is interesting about this one is that in winning the case, the Bishop used RLUIPA to good effect, largely since the proposed uses for the parish center could be linked to the church's mission. Another interesting thing is that the diocese was not butting heads with the town. On the contrary, the diocese and town were on the same side, and the litigation was brought against them by abutters.

link: Mintz v. Bishop of Springfield.