Post 9/11 Civil Liberties

Related Program: Immigrant Rights

Al Falah Center v. Township of Bridgewater, (D.N.J.) At the end of 2010, American Muslims in central New Jersey bought a closed banquet facility in Bridgewater, New Jersey and developed plans to convert it into a mosque and community center. The mosque site was in a residential area which permitted houses of worship. However, in January 2011, before the first scheduled hearing on the mosque’s construction permit, the Mayor and town officials planned to change the zoning rules. The first hearing over the mosque’s construction permit had to be cancelled as an unprecedented number of people showed up in response to a Tea Party emailing suggesting the mosque may be tied to terrorism. Before the hearing could be rescheduled, the township began the process of changing the zoning for the mosque site. By April 2011, a new zoning ordinance barred the use of the site for a mosque. After fruitless settlement negotiations and discovery, Al Falah moved for preliminary injunction against the discriminatory zoning ordinance in November 2012. In September 2013, the Court held for the plaintiffs and enjoined the township from enforcing its new ordinance against Al Falah. The case was settled in December 2014, allowing Al Falah to proceed with its plans to build the first mosque in Bridgewater Township. (co-counsel Arnold & Porter, Brennan Center)