Two federal courts handed down decisions this week protecting religious liberty and agreeing with the positions of the Department of Justice in those cases. In the first case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a federal trial court had improperly dismissed a suit by a small African Christian congregation under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The congregation alleges that Baltimore County, Maryland, improperly denied the congregation zoning approval for a new church. In the second case, the United States District Court for the District of Iowa ruled that the University of Iowa violated the First Amendment rights of a student group when the University de-registered the group for requiring its student leaders to adhere to the group’s religious beliefs, while not applying that same requirement to other student groups.
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