By Kent Larsen
Boston Temple Opponents Lose Last Appeal
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Supreme Court turned down without comment
the request from opponents of the LDS Church's Boston Temple to hear
their challenge to a Massachusetts zoning law. The Court's move
upheld the ruling of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that
upheld the law, which the town of Belmont used to allow construction
of the Temple. The ruling resolves one of two outstanding challenges
to the completion of the Temple.
After the town of Belmont granted a building permit to the LDS Church
for construction of the Boston Temple, neighbors of the building
filed a 1998 lawsuit, claiming that Massachusetts' so-called Dover
amendment unconstitutionally established religion. The law, passed in
1950 in response to the denial of a building permit to a church by
the town of Dover, Massachusetts, says local zoning ordinances cannot
prohibit the construction of religious, educational and some other
buildings in any zoning area, but that the ordinances can set
requirements for size, height, parking and open space.
A federal judge and then the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both
heard the neighbors case, which claimed that the law
unconstitutionally protected religion over other uses. In turning
down the opportunity to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court may
have implied that the constitution's first amendment prohibits
favoring one religion over another, instead of favoring religion over
non-religious purposes, as the Temple's opponents argued.
The ruling leaves one lawsuit involving the Temple remaining.
Neighbors challenged the town's grant of a zoning variance to the LDS
Church that allowed construction of a 139-foot steeple on the
building. A state judge ruled earlier this year that the Temple must
stay within the zoning law, in spite of an exception granted by the
town of Belmont. Mormon News has learned that a hearing on the LDS
Church's appeal of that ruling will be held later this week.
Opponents of Mormon temple lose Supreme Court appeal
Boston Globe (AP) 8Jan01 N1
By Laurie Asseo: Associated Press