The Case That Makes a Lawyer’s Life Meaningful
Peter L. Zimroth
New York Law Journal | August 10, 2011
Arnold & Porter is leading a pro bono effort–together with Archer & Greiner, the Brennan Center, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund–to challenge a newly enacted zoning law in Bridgewater, N.J., which was designed to block the development of a proposed mosque in that town. Recently I was asked to talk to a gathering of more than 200 Muslim supporters of the proposed mosque. The lawyers were being thanked for their pro bono effort, and I was asked to talk about the case and about why lawyers chose to undertake a case like this pro bono.
Speaking to this group, I was forced to confront the gap between my own deep faith in the ideals of American democracy and the evident injustice that was being done. There are 18 houses of worship in Bridgewater, none of them Islamic. The township had passed a new ordinance precisely to block the Al Falah Center. Many people at the gathering, including most poignantly, the children, asked a very simple question: if everyone else in our town can have a place of worship, why can’t we?