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Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington

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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.

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
U.S. Supreme Court
4/12/2019
U.S. Supreme Court
1/16/2019
Appellate Court
9/18/2018
Trial Court
11/8/2017
Appellate Court
4/29/2015
Trial Court
9/11/2012
Trial Court
8/16/2012
Trial Court
5/1/2011

Additional Resources

 

Fact Sheet

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