Recent Articles of Interest

From SSRN:Engy Abdelkader, Muslims and Islam in U.S. Public Schools: Cases, Controversies and Curricula, (Education, Citizenship, National Identity and Core Values In Western Societies, Brill Publishers (2019 Forthcoming)).Cary Franklin, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and What It Means to Protect Women, (Forthcoming, Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories (Foundation Press, 2019)).Gal Amir, 1648 or 1948? No Room for Westphalia in the Middle-East, (9 Journal on European History of Law no. 1, 99-107 (2018)).Kenneth Townsend, A Common Enterprise: Law and the Connection between Civil and Heavenly Realms in the Writings of John Calvin, (Concordia Law Review, Forthcoming).Douglas NeJaime

In Youkhanna v. City of Sterling Heights, (ED MI, Aug. 1, 2018), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a lawsuit challenging a consent decree approved by the Sterling Heights City Council growing out of a dispute over zoning approval for a mosque. (See prior posting.) The consent decree settled two related lawsuits– one by the Islamic Center and one by the Department of Justice– that alleged violations of RLUIPA and of the Islamic Center’s free exercise rights.  An overcrowded and contentious City Council meeting preceded approval of the consent decree.  Rejecting the challenge to approval of the consent decree the court said in part:The crux of Plaintiffs’ Complaint is that the approval of the Consent Judgment should be invalidated because the Council purportedly failed to abide by the City’s Zoning Code by neglecting to consider the discretionary standards set forth in § 25.02. Plaintiffs’ further assert that the Consent Judgment should be invalidated because the City did not comply with the notice requirements under the MZEA [Michigan Zoning Enabling Act]. Both of Plaintiffs’ arguments are without merit.The court also rejected claims that the Michigan Open Meetings Act had been violated and that defendants’ 1st, 4th and 14th Amendment rights had been infringed. The court said in part:Plaintiffs claim their speech was impermissibly chilled when they and other audience members were limited to a two-minute speaking time, prevented from speaking critically of the Islamic faith, and removed from the meeting for being disruptive. However, … [w]hen the government designates a limited public forum for speech, as is the case of a city council meeting, it may apply restrictions to the time, place, and manner of speech so long as those restrictions “are content neutral, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication.”The court had previously denied a preliminary injunction in the challenge.  Detroit News reports that defendants will appeal yesterday’s ruling.Meanwhile, according to AINA, another mosque controversy is on the horizon in Sterling Heights as a group of Pakistanis are moving ahead with plans to convert a former Lutheran church there into a mosque.


In Cormier v. PF Fitness-Midland, LLC, (MI App., July 26, 2018), a Michigan appellate court in a case on remand from the Michigan Supreme Court held that the gym Planet Fitness violated provisions of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act when it failed to inform plaintiff that it had a policy of allowing members to use whichever locker room and rest room corresponds to the gender with which that person self-identifies. The court concluded that Planet Fitness violated MCL 445.903(1)(s), (bb), and (cc) which prohibit:(s) Failing to reveal a material fact, the omission of which tends to mislead or deceive the consumer, and which fact could not reasonably be known by the consumer.(bb) Making a representation of fact or statement of fact material to the transaction such that a person reasonably believes the represented or suggested state of affairs to be other than it actually is.(cc) Failing to reveal facts that are material to the transaction in light of representations of fact made in a positive manner.In concluding that the failure to inform plaintiff of the policy was material, the court said:After joining the gym, plaintiff saw an assigned male individual in the women’s locker room and then complained to an employee at the front desk and to defendants’ corporate office. Upon being informed of defendants’ unwritten policy on the matter, plaintiff verbally warned other women at the gym about it. Plaintiff’s actions indicate that she strongly preferred a locker room and a restroom in which individuals who are assigned biologically male are not present, and it is thus reasonable to infer that defendants’ failure to inform plaintiff of the unwritten policy affected her decision to join the gym.A person who successfully sues under Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act may recover actual damages or $250, whichever is greater, plus attorneys’ fees. Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.


In Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, (DC Cir., July 31, 2018), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 44-pages of opinions, rejected challenges to the WMATA’s guidelines which preclude the sale of advertising space on public buses for issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy ads.  The ban includes ads