The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act's (RLUIPA) equal terms provision prohibits government from implementing a land-use regulation in a manner that treats religious assemblies and institutions less favorably than secular assemblies and institutions. Lower courts have only begun to interpret and apply RLUIPA's equal terms provision, but already they have significantly weakened its protections of religious liberty by giving the provision unnecessarily restrictive interpretations. Not surprisingly, in light of the Supreme Court's invalidation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), the lower courts' restrictive readings seen? driven by concerns that a broader interpretation would exceed Congress's Fourteenth Amendment enforcement power. Yet the lower courts' concerns about the constitutionality of a broader interpretation are misplaced, and their restrictive readings of the equal terms provision severely weaken RLUIPA's protections of religious liberty. This Note argues that a textual interpretation of the provision, which would strictly prohibit unequal treatment of religious assemblies and institutions as compared to secular assemblies and institutions, falls within Congress's prophylactic power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, a textual interpretation is more consistent with Congress's intent to broadly protect religious liberty.
Sarah Keeton Campbell,
Restoring RLUIPAs Equal Terms Provision,
58 Duke Law Journal
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol58/iss6/5