Department of Justice Sues Culpeper for Denying Mosque Permit

Dec 13, 2016

Leaders in Culpeper County are headed to federal court to defend themselves against charges they violated the civil rights of Muslims. 

Back in April, members of the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors were considering a pretty unremarkable item — a pump and haul permit to empty wastewater. But this particular permit was filed by the Islamic Center of Culpeper, which caused some concern in the community. Supervisor Sue Hansohn responded this way:

“Our policy doesn’t give us the right to turn someone down because of religion.”

The Culpeper County courthouse.

But Supervisor William Chase made a motion to deny the permit, saying that these kinds of permits should be limited to specific situations, like a warehouse where the facilities are rarely used.

“So that’s the kind of emergency that it’s designed for, not for a commercial or a church use for a purpose like that. So that’s the reason I can’t support it.” (applause and gavel of chairman)

Now the Department of Justice is suing the supervisors, and Kevin Walsh at the University of Richmond Law School says:

“Assuming that the county denies the allegations, then you’ll ultimately have some discovery to figure out what was really going on.”

Federal prosecutors say they want Culpeper to reconsider the permit, and — this time — refrain from discrimination.