SCOTUS Declines Case on Christian School Banned from Its Own Building

‘This issue will come back to the court someday in a different case…’

Christian School Battles Ohio City So It Can Use Building It Owns

Tree of Life Building/PHOTO: Alliance Defending Freedom

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The Supreme Court will not hear a religious discrimination case involving an Ohio city that has prevented a Christian school from using its own building.

Tree of Life Christian Schools petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case in January after lower courts sided with the city of Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Alliance Defending Freedom has represented Tree of Life Christian Schools since the lawsuit began in 2011.

“The government isn’t being neutral toward religion when it chooses to treat religious organizations worse than other entities,” said John Bursch, ADF vice president of appellate advocacy and senior counsel.

Tree of Life Christian Schools had three campuses but wanted to combine them into a central location.

In 2010 the Christian school bought an office building that would have accommodated its student body.

The property is zoned for “commercial use,” so Upper Arlington said the school could not operate there because it would not generate tax revenue.

The city, however, allows other non-profit entities, which also do not create tax revenue, to operate in the same space.

“Upper Arlington’s actions are in defiance of federal law, which prohibits cities from discriminating against religious groups in zoning matters,” Bursch said.

“The government can’t say ‘yes’ to daycare centers and other nonprofit uses of property but say ‘no’ to a Christian school that wants to educate children,” he said. “For that reason, this issue will come back to the court someday in a different case.”

ADF challenged the law under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which bans discrimination in land and zoning affairs.

At the new location, Tree of Life Christian schools would have been able to enroll 1,200 students, up from the 660 that it currently educates.

Upper Arlington also thwarted 150 new jobs that would have been created for the new campus.