Supreme Court rejects Church's claim of discrimination in zoning dispute
The Shepherd Montessori Center Milan sued Ann Arbor Charter Township, arguing it was denied Constitutional equal protection in a zoning dispute. The Township had previously allowed non-conforming day-care operations in a business park. It refused, however, to allow the Montessori Center to operate an elementary school. The Montessori Center had argued that it enjoyed special Constitutional protection by reason of its religious and educational status, a claim that the Court debunked immediately.
The Court noted in a unanimous opinion that the Township owed no exceptional duty to an entity engaged in a religious activity: it's duty was to avoid discriminating against a religious entity. The Court pointed out that by its previous actions with regard to the property and business park in question, the Township had demonstrated that it was not motivated by an anti-religion animus and that it had sound public policy reasons for approving day-care but declining school operations in an Office Park-designated zoning district.