Church case before federal appeals court

By The Associated Press

HOLLY SPRINGS – A federal appeals court has scheduled oral arguments for Aug. 8 on a Holly Springs church’s lawsuit to relocate to a storefront space on the downtown square.
The 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals will hear the case in New Orleans.
In January, a federal judge in Mississippi denied Opulent Life Church’s request to stop the city from enforcing part of its zoning ordinance. The church appealed.
The church and its supporters, including the Texas-based Liberty Institute, claim several restrictions in the ordinance are unconstitutional.
The Justice Department has filed brief in support of the church. It contends the city ordinance improperly singles out places of worship for restriction and is in violation of federal law.
The Liberty Institute said due to zoning restrictions, the church must get the approval of 60 percent of nearby residents and the town’s mayor. No other type of business in Holly Springs must do so.
The city contends that the church had other avenues available, such as asking for a variance from the ordinance, before filing suit. Until those avenues are exhausted, the city says the issue should not be in court.