Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



State v. Village of Oak Creek Comm Church of the Nazarene (religion)

January, 2007

The Defendant argues that the parents, and the sixty one children, have no state or federal constitutional right at stake in these proceedings. That is not correct. Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232, 92 S.Ct. 1526, 1541,32 L.Ed.2d 15 (1972). More importantly, the retaliatory termination of the lease, done in response to the Defendant's efforts to force its religious beliefs onto a publicly funded school, appears to have been done in violation of the Establishment Clause. Therefore, there are rights which trigger the consideration of the State's allegation of irreparable harm.

The Court does not agree with the analysis that the Church becomes a place of public accommodation when it decides to lease to a publicly funded school. Rather, the Court finds that the leased premises are unambiguously a place of public accommodation when the premises are operated as a school. The Church is not claiming that the school is interfering with Church services or functions when the leased premises operate as a Church.

The Court turns to the factors for consideration in whether to grant a preliminary injunction. The Court finds, from the record, that there is a strong likelihood of success on the merits by the State in its efforts to show that the Defendant engaged in conduct that was discriminatory and in violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act. The Court finds that, in a balance of hardships, there is literally no interference with Church activities during hours when the premises operate as a Church, but substantial harm to the tenant if the Church is permitted to turn the schoolchildren out onto the street to find some other school other than that of their parent's choosing. For the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED granting the State's Application for Injunctive Relief, to remain in full force and effect until February 28, 2007.