Sitting for the court: Justice Paul W. Green, Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Justice Phil Johnson, Justice David Medina, Justice Dale Wainwright, Justice Don R. Willett, Justice Scott A. Brister, Justice Harriet O'Neill
Pastor Rick Barr and Philemon Homes Inc. v. City of Sinton
from San Patricio County and the 13th District Court of Appeals, Corpus Christi/Edinburg
In this case, a challenge to a zoning restriction on houses for parolees established as a ministry, the principal issues are (1) whether the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires the city to accommodate the houses despite zoning prohibiting them and (2) whether the act requires the city to prove the regulation is the least-restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. Barr sued to declare that the zoning violates state constitutional protection and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it prohibits a correctional or rehabilitation facility within 1,000 feet of the church – in this case, the church that sponsors them. The trial court held that the zoning was not a substantial burden Barr’s religious beliefs. The court of appeals affirmed.