Archive for June 16th, 2010

Book Review – RLUIPA Reader

RLUIPA Reader : Religious Land Uses, Zoning, and the Courts. Michael S. Giaimo and Lora A. Lucero, editors. ABA, Section of State and Local Government Law : American Planning Association, 2009. ($79.95| Paperback.  ISBN:  978-1-60442-358-7|  195 pages).

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) prohibits a government from imposing a land use regulation in a manner which places a substantial burden on religious exercise.  The typical RLUIPA case involves denial of a land use permit or variance to build or expand a place of worship or related building.  The RLUIPA Reader offers information about the statute and case law, as well as practical advice, opinions, insights and future predictions.

There are few books currently available on RLUIPA.  Major practice sets such as Zoning and Land Use Controls by Patrick J. Rohan contain a basic discussion of the statute and case law. This book goes beyond the basics and offers perspectives and advice from practitioners.  Moreover, the RLUIPA Reader is intended not only for attorneys, but for community planners and the parties involved in RLUIPA situations – the religious land use applicant, local government, neighbors, and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, which enforces RLUIPA.

This book is useful for any academic law library, county law library, city law department or a law firm library, if the firm has a substantial practice in zoning law.  The RLUIPA reader is a must for any school with a heavy emphasis on urban planning and/or land use law.  Students will find the book interesting, easy to understand and a great resource for writing a paper.  This book brings out the highly controversial nature of RLUIPA, as well as highlighting several interesting fact situations from actual RLUIPA cases.

Each chapter of the book has a different author or authors.  The authors are community planners, attorneys practicing in the area of land use or municipal law, or law professors specializing in land use.  From the description at the beginning of the book, one can see that all the authors have considerable education and experience in land use law and religious land use issues.  The editors are attorneys specializing in land use and also have backgrounds in city planning.

The chapters are written in a straightforward manner.  The authors cite to many relevant cases, statutes and legislative history documents and there are footnotes at the end of each chapter.  Each chapter ends with a conclusion and/or discussion of what to expect in the future.  While each chapter has a different author, the work flows together and each chapter builds on each other.

The first chapter of this book summarizes U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence concerning Constitutional rights to religious freedom.  A 1990 case, Employment Division v. Smith held that neutral, generally applicable laws could not be challenged under the Free Exercise clause.  This decision prompted religious and civil rights groups to lobby for federal legislation imposing strict scrutiny of laws found to substantially burden a religious individual or institution.  Chapter 2 discusses two earlier attempts at such legislation.  This chapter also discusses the legislative history of RLUIPA.

The next three chapters offer different perspectives of RLUIPA: from an attorney who represents religious land use applicants, an attorney who represents neighborhood groups, and a review of Department of Justice documents.   The second half of the book offers practical information including a summary of RLUIPA case law, advice from a local government lawyer, how local governments can avoid RLUIPA challenges, advice from a planner and top ten tips.  The last chapter discusses whether RLUIPA should be reformed or repealed.  The end of the book contains an appendix reprinting the land use provisions of RLUIPA, a table of cases and an index.

In conclusion, this book is valuable for anyone needing practical information and insights into RLUIPA, as well as a basic discussion of the statute, legislative history and case law.

Sue Altmeyer, Electronic Services Librarian, Cleveland Marshall College of Law

Book Review: CCH’s Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

CCH’s Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Including Reconciliation Act Impact. Wolters Kluwer, 2010. [$149.00 | 2 volumes (2110 pages) | Soft cover: 9780808022879 (Vol. 1), 9780808023425 (Vol. 2)].

CCH has closely adhered to the company’s familiar provision of publications with a combination of primary materials and analysis through its new title on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Hailing the PPACA as “the largest expansion of federal health care policy in over four decades”, CCH includes explanations of all provisions of the act and the primary law itself, as well as the text of a congressional committee report and finding tools to help navigate between their analysis and the official text. As to whether this is worth purchasing, I would suggest it for several reasons, though I do take issue with the print format usability. CCH does not yet have competition for this particular issue in print; and, as a fairly inexpensive publication with CCH’s reputation to back the quality of information, this a good buy for any law library.

This is a brand new title covering brand new law for an extremely controversial and dense topic. As such, you have to expect the organization of the material to be fairly complex. The first volume includes an Introduction that covers a brief history of health care legislation in the United States, with a focus on legislative action through 2009-2010. This is followed by a detailed explanation of how the material in the book is arranged. The analysis portion contains “Highlights” (quick summaries of major provisions in the acts) and “Explanation” sections. The explanations follow the organization structure of the law and include the legislative background, editorial aids, charts, captions which cite to specific law sections, cross references and effective dates of each section. The plentiful cross-references and citations to the text of the acts offer a great deal of support and authority for the explanations provided by CCH staff. The first volume ends with a subject index. Volume two contains the official text of the PPACA, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and a Joint Committee on Taxation report. The last resources in volume two are tables of effective dates and many more tables cross referencing Social Security, Employee Retirement Income Security, and Internal Revenue Code sections.

Not surprisingly, CCH offers this title in both print and electronic format. Access to the e-version is complimentary if you subscribe to several CCH Internet products (see health.cch.com/health-reform/ for more information). As my library does not subscribe to any of those online CCH titles (nor do we have an IntelliConnect subscription), I cannot detail my thoughts on the e-version. As for the print, it is a soft cover two volume set. CCH has additionally provided a companion web site to expand access to key legislative materials. While the cost is relatively low, and the publication does provide a comprehensive compilation of primary text and analysis, the format does not lend itself to easy usability. My conclusion is that in order to get the title published as quickly as possible in print, CCH chose the soft cover format over loose-leaf. I would not be surprised to find this item converted to a loose-leaf format, which would greatly enhance usability, as well as enable more current updating. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Becoming a loose-leaf binder will not only almost certainly significantly raise the publication price, but also bring in yet another CCH binder subscription with the thinnest paper in the world, making filers throughout all libraries that much more eager to file away.

Katie Lynn is the Electronic Services Librarian at the Wyoming State Law Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


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