Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
Ever heard of it? Myself has not, that is until today when I discovered that the US government is suing the Maui Planning Commission. It seems that a rural Maui congregation wanted to build a church but was denied a permit by the land board, and subsequently was able to get the DOJ to file a suit under the act.
The United States sued Maui County in support of Hale O Kaula after the church filed a religious discrimination case against the county.

The church had requested use of farm land in Pukalani for a worship center, but the planning commission denied the permit, agreeing with neighbors who claimed it would lead to increased traffic and noise, added burden to county services and a deterioration of the rural atmosphere.

The church refused to argue a complete case in a contested-case appeal. Instead, it accused the hearing officer of bias, then filed its suit based on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a relatively new law enacted by Congress to give churches an advantage in zoning battles.
This not very well known act was signed into law in September 2000, by President Clinton, in the waning days if his term, designed to give religious groups protection from discrimination against their freedom of religious exercise, the act reads:
No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution--
(A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The argument against this act is that it creates special rights for religious groups that non-religious groups don't get. When any organization, religious or not, is permitted to bypass basic regulations on things like traffic, noise, and safety, that strikes Myself as wrong. By the looks of all the various advocacy groups involved here, this one is going to go on and up the legal system for awhile.
Music Wars: Scene 24
In which the Empire says: Here you come again
Yes people it's time for a third round of lawsuits:
The Recording Industry Association of America said Wednesday it had sued another 41 people in its ongoing legal campaign against file swappers who are trading copyrighted music online.

This is the RIAA's third batch of suits against computer users since early September, bringing the total number of people sued to 382. The group also said it had sent out an additional 90 new letters to alleged file traders, notifying them that they would be next to be sued if they didn't reach a settlement agreement first.

"This is an ongoing strategy, and the way to let people know that there is a risk of consequences is to continue the program," RIAA President Cary Sherman said. "You don't set up a speed trap for one day and stop enforcement thereafter. It has to be consistent."
Wonderful, now Darth Cary is equating their draconian tactics with a speed trap, to make it more friendly -like. There are more things wrong with that analogy that one does not know where to en begin. At least Myself is not on the recieving end of this one. Hope none of you out there are not either.
Music is the greatest creation of mankind.