Firm Secures Settlement on behalf of Islamic Society of Basking Ridge
After more than a year of litigation, Bernards Township in Basking Ridge, New Jersey has settled a lawsuit brought by the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (ISBR) regarding its denial of a permit to build a mosque. Patterson Belknap’s team, led by Adeel Mangi, represented ISBR and its President, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, in this litigation to enforce ISBR’s constitutional rights in a suburban New Jersey town.
After a four-year public administrative approval process, the Township denied ISBR’s application to build the proposed mosque in January 2016. Shortly thereafter, Firm attorneys filed the action in federal district court on ISBR’s behalf, alleging claims of religious discrimination under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the U.S. Constitution, and state law. The U.S. Department of Justice also initiated a parallel civil rights investigation into the Township’s denial of ISBR’s application to build a mosque. In November 2016, the Department of Justice filed its own lawsuit accusing the Township of religious discrimination.
On December 31, 2016, Judge Michael Shipp in the District of New Jersey issued a landmark ruling in favor of ISBR on a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings on the central issue of parking, accepting that the Township’s admissions constituted discrimination under the RLUIPA and separately that their conduct was unconstitutional. That motion earned the support of an unprecedented coalition of 34 amici, including groups of all major religious faiths and the nation’s leading civil rights groups.
This week, Bernards Township and ISBR signed a settlement agreement, in which the Township must pay $3.25 million to ISBR and must allow ISBR’s mosque application to proceed.
The settlement has been covered widely in the media, including articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and other local and national publications.