Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield v. City of Springfield, No. 11-1117 (1st Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The City of Springfield passed an ordinance creating a single-parcel historic district encompassing a church owned by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield (RCB). Under the ordinance, RCB could not make any changes affecting the exterior of the church without the permission of the Springfield Historical Commission (SHC). RCB challenged the ordinance, claiming it violated RCB's rights under the First Amendment, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Massachusetts Constitution. The district court granted summary judgment for the City, concluding that some of RCB's claims were not ripe for review and that its remaining claims failed as a matter of law. The First Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed RCB's unripe claims without prejudice and rejected the remaining ripe claim, holding (1) the claims that the district court found were unripe should have been dismissed without prejudice, not resolved on summary judgment; (2) those of RCB's claims which depended on the potential consequences of compliance with the ordinance were not ripe for adjudication; and (3) RCB's claim based on the enactment of the ordinance was ripe for review but failed on the merits.