Land Use

Even though it has been a few weeks since the opinion was handed down, unless you happen to read Land Use Prof Blog you probably have no idea that the birth control mandate case is likely to affect land use regulation. 

As usual, on the last day of the Supreme Court’s term it released its opinion in the biggest case of the term:  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  The Court held 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as applied to closely held corporations.  

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief, which Justice Ginsburg quoted in her dissenting opinion, because of the possible effect on land use. 

In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States the Court held 8-1 that a private party, rather than the federal government, owns an abandoned railroad right-of-way granted by the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875.  When the federal government owns abandoned railroad rights-of-way, state and local governments may convert them into “Rails-to-Trails.”  The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus curiae brief in this case.

What do the Supreme Court cases where corporations challenge the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate on religious grounds have to do with state government?  Nothing, at least on the surface.  But if you dig a little deeper the outcome of this case could affect state and local land use decisions.  That is why the State and Local Legal Center filed an amicus brief in this case. 

This Act declares areas of the state wholly or partially within a jointly developed community — military Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) study area, Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) area, Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB), or an Environmental Noise Management Plan (ENMP) of an active duty, National Guard or reserve military installation, constitute a state area of interest vital to national security and the economic well being of the state. The bill requires military installations notify and coordinate with municipalities about any development, project, or operational change that alters or amends a JLUS area, ACUB, AICUZ, or ENMP.

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