Town Asks Supreme Court to Dismiss Chabad Lawsuit

The Historic District of Litchfield Connecticut is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit regarding the rejection of plans for a synagogue in 2007. Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut cited the Litchfield Historic District Commission for religious discrimination over the denial of modifications to their building.

The commission and the Borough of Litchfield asked the Supreme Court on Monday to hear the case. The move comes after the lawsuit was at first dismissed by a federal judge, then reinstated by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in September.

Upon reinstatement, C. Scott Schwefel, a lawyer for the Historic District Commission, told The Associated Press: “We’re confident that the District Court … will determine that there is still no genuine issue of material facts and will again dismiss the action.”

The Borough of Litchfield’s Historic District Commission rejected in 2007 an application to expand a 2,656 square foot, 19th century West Street home, most recently used as a business, into a 21,011-square-foot synagogue and community center.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court ruled that federal Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven was wrong to dismiss the lawsuit. The judges said Hall erred by ruling that part of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that bars government interference in religious exercise didn’t apply to the case.

The appeals court panel, however, upheld Hall’s other rulings in the case, including her dismissals of Chabad Lubavitch’s claims that its constitutional rights to freedom of religion and equal protection were violated.

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