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Interesting South Dakota religion case

In case you missed the AP story, the South Dakota Supreme Court will hear arguments next Tuesday in a somewhat different religion case.

Here’s the basic tale: The Holy Family Catholic church in Mitchell wants to tear down the Notre Dame Academy, a nearly century old school building that closed a few years ago. Local residents challenged a demolition permit issued by the city because the school is on the National Register of Historic Places. In giving permission for the demolition to proceed, the trial court ruled, among other things, that denying the permit would substantially burden the parish’s religious freedom.

This latter analysis stems from a federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Under that law, no government can impose or implement land use regulations in a way that “imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution” unless the government can meet what is known in constitutional law as the strict scrutiny test.

The Supreme Court usually archives audio of arguments so they should be available via this link.


The use, building, or conversion of real property for the purpose of religious exercise shall be considered to be religious exercise of the person or entity that uses or intends to use the property for that purpose.

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, ยง 8(7)(B)

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