NJ Federal Court Allows Muslim Residents to Proceed with Lawsuit Against Township of Bridgewater

Friday, Jul 8, 2011

- Al Falah Center continues challenge to zoning laws that would block mosque -

A New Jersey federal judge has ruled that the Al Falah Center and Muslim community residents can proceed with their legal challenge to a hastily-concocted zoning ordinance that would bar construction of a mosque in Bridgewater, New Jersey. In an oral ruling, U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano denied the Town's motion to dismiss and found that the plaintiffs were not obligated to first seek a zoning variance. The case will now proceed to a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction.

Kenneth Kimerling, AALDEF Legal Director, said: "The Court's decision has turned back the Town's attempt to delay this lawsuit and tie up the Al Falah Center in a lengthy and unnecessary proceeding. The Al Falah Center will now proceed to prove in court that the Town's ordinance was unlawfully designed to block the mosque."

In April, the Al Falah Center and Muslim residents sued the Town of Bridgewater in New Jersey federal court, contending that the new zoning ordinance violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Al Falah also sought a preliminary injunction to allow its application to build the mosque to proceed. In response, the Town moved to dismiss the lawsuit. The Town asserted that Al Falah had to first seek a variance from the challenged ordinance before it could file its lawsuit. On June 29, Judge Pisano denied the town's motion. No date has been set for the hearing on the preliminary injunction.

Al Falah is represented by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the law firms of Arnold & Porter in New York and Archer & Greiner in New Jersey, and the Brennan Center for Justice.