Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association case brief summary

Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association
  • Road being built by federal government between two cities in California on federal lands; road to go through Chimney Rock area, which is sacred to Hoopla Valley Tribe
  • Tribe needs access to Chimney Rock area and needs that access to be quite
  • Forest Service has study done, study indicates that road would have adverse impact on tribes’ religion; Forest Service decides to build road anyway, while also approving timber harvesting with ½ mile buffer zone (provides visual barrier, but not noise barrier)
  • Tribe sues on various statutes and Free Exercise Clause
  • Free Exercise analysis:
    • Government cannot interfere with belief under any circumstances
    • Government can burden practice of religion if:
      • Substantial burden?
      • Compelling interest?
      • Narrowly tailored means?
    • Depends on ability to separate belief and practice
  • Minority: within place-based religion, cannot separate belief and practice; very real burden; practical effect on practice of religion = devastating
  • Majority: government not affecting belief, just practice; no burden on practice because can still access land; for government action to be a substantial burden, must have some legal consequence/impediment; character of government action/legal consequence = not substantial; federal governments land – should be used as government pleases, would create a religious servitude, cannot accommodate wishes of every citizen

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