This week, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – through its Institute for Public Affairs – joined in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit urging that court to reverse a lower court decision striking down a Montgomery County, Maryland zoning rule exception for parochial schools. The brief was drafted by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and joined in by groups including the American Jewish Congress and Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
In the case of Renzi v. Connelly School of the Holy Child, a federal district court ruled that a Montgomery County provision that allowed religious organizations to construct parochial schools on their private property without obtaining a special exemption under the county zoning ordinances, was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The submitted friend of the court brief contends that this county provision should be properly characterized as an accommodation of religion, rather than its establishment, and that it ensures that less entanglement of religion and state will take place.
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute stated that “we are confident that the appellate court will reverse the district court’s ruling and reassert the principle that government accommodation of religious institutions is entirely proper and constitutional.”