Parking Spaces and Property Rights

What do parking spaces have to do with property rights?


The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, “dedicated to providing Islamic religious, educational, cultural and social services to Muslims living or working in Somerset Hills and the surrounding areas,” last year sued Bernards Township, New Jersey, several months after its application to build a mosque was denied after more than three years and thirty-nine public hearings.

The stated issue was parking spaces.

The township argued that it was “completely appropriate to insist a mosque provide more off-street parking than a comparably sized church or synagogue because of its unique worship times and traditions.”

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The Islamic Society’s attorney argued that “parking requirements were the tool municipalities used to thwart construction of mosques.”

Early this year, a federal court ruled in favor of the Islamic Society. U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp stated that “Bernards Township violated the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act by applying a different standard to Muslims.” He found that the township’s planning board had “unbridled and unconstitutional discretion” because of its vague parking requirements.

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Most liberals no doubt applaud the judge’s decision because they look to the federal government to stamp out discrimination in every sphere.

Many conservatives no doubt applaud the efforts of any city to prevent Muslims from building a mosque—by any means, legitimate or otherwise.

Libertarians, whatever their religion, personal feelings about Islam, or concern about the construction of mosques in their communities, see an entirely…

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