Important or Memorable Cases Attorney in Seattle, Washington

A Church’s Right to Serve the Poor

Seattle, WA commercial litigation attorney Anthony L. Rafel talks about a case in which he defended a church’s right to host “tent city” on their property.

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In terms of other litigating cases we’ve done some work on the pro bono basis. One case involved the tent city issue in Seattle. A church in one of the suburban areas wanted to host tent city for a 90 day stay. The municipality adopted an ordnance that drastically restricted the rights of the church to host tent city but they did it by requiring onerous actions in terms of food service and sanitary facilities and so forth where they imposed onerous requirements that made it as a practical matter impossible to host tent city. The existing facility of the church was more than sufficient to host the encampment but the city’s regulation would have really required a lot more.

We challenged that on a pro bono basis on behalf of the church and lost at the trial level. And we appealed that to the Washington Court of Appeals and we lost at the court of appeals. And we appealed that to the Washington Supreme Court and prevailed 9-0 in the Washington Supreme Court on the basis of religious freedom. The mission of the church is to help people in need and the court found that the city had unreasonably restricted the religious freedom of this church to carry out its fundamental mission.

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