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Supreme Court of the United States

Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington

Last Updated: 4/19/2022

Overview

What's at stake

  • The constitutionality of zoning restrictions that limit the ability of religious organizations to use their property for religious purposes
  • Government restrictions that target religious organizations for disfavorable treatment 

Summary

Tree of Life Christian Schools was founded to provide superior education and nurture young lives in Christ. Over the years, it grew to four separate campuses in the Columbus, Ohio area. As Tree of Life continued to grow, its four campuses became inadequate to meet the needs of its rapidly growing student body. After a long search, Tree of Life purchased an unoccupied building in Upper Arlington, Ohio, that was formerly owned by AOL/Time-Warner but was now vacant and unused. Tree of Life applied for a zoning permit for its Christian school in the new building. If approved, the building would allow the school to double in size and to consolidate its inferior and overcrowded campuses. The school would also provide more than 150 new jobs to the city, as well as tax revenue greater than what had been realized from the vacant site in many years. But officials from the City of Upper Arlington refused to grant Tree of Life zoning approval to use the abandoned facility for a school. The City zoning code would allow daycares and other similar uses within the same zoning district without requiring them to apply for zoning approval in advance. The zoning code treats Tree of Life on less than equal terms with other secular assemblies and institutions allowed in that zoning district.

Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, Tree of Life filed a lawsuit against Upper Arlington.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allied attorneys represented Tree of Life Christian Schools in the defense of its constitutional rights.

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
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Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---jewish-coalition-for-religious-liberty.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:38 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---complaint.pdf", "Date": "11/1/2017 5:02:07 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - Civil Liberties for Urban Believers and Southeastern Legal Foundation", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---civil-liberties-for-urban-believers-et-al.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:40 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints et al.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---latter-day-saints-et-al.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:38 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "District court opinion and order on remand", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---district-court-opinion-and-order-on-remand.pdf", "Date": "11/6/2017 5:22:53 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - American Center for Law and Justice", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---american-center-for-law-and-justice.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:38 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "Sixth Circuit Opinion (2018)", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---sixth-circuit-opinion-(2018).pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 11:10:30 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Notice of Appeal (2012)", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---appeal.pdf", "Date": "11/1/2017 5:02:07 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petition for writ of certiorari", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf", "Date": "1/16/2019 5:19:23 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "Sixth Circuit Opinion (2016)", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---sixth-circuit-opinion.pdf", "Date": "11/1/2017 5:02:07 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - Citizens for Community Values", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---citizens-for-community-values.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:38 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Reply brief for petitioner", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---reply-brief-for-petitioner.pdf", "Date": "4/12/2019 3:51:38 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - CatholicVote.org Education Fund", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---catholicvote-org-education-fund.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:40 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari - The Islam & Religious Freedom Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-v-upper-arlington---amicus-brief-in-support-of-petition-for-writ-of-certiorari---irfatrfi.pdf", "Date": "2/20/2019 9:56:38 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Summary judgment order", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v.-city-of-upper-arlington/tree-of-life-christian-schools-v-city-of-upper-arlington---summary-judgment-order.pdf", "Date": "11/1/2017 5:02:07 PM"}]}

Additional Resources

 

SCOTUSblog case page: Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington

 
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