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Saturday, June 4, 2011

"It’s very sad when government officials misinterpret the Constitution and attempt to kick such groups out...That is clearly not at all what the authors of the Constitution intended.”

Jordan Lorence, attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the Bronx Household of Faith in a case heard before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals this term. The case was brought by the New York City Department of Education which sought to ban the church from holding "regular worship services" on public school property. Yesterday, the Second Circuit ruled against the church, arguing that while religious groups cannot be banned from meeting on school property, neither can they be allowed to conduct religious services there. Judge Pierre N. Leval, part of a three-judge panel, wrote that when services are conducted on school property “the place has, at least for a time, become the church,” adding that the city’s policy against services in the schools imposed “no restraint on the free expression of any point of view.” Rather, it applied only to “a certain type of activity — the conduct of worship services — and not to the free expression of religious views associated with it.” Judge John Walker dissented, arguing that the ban violated the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

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