In the town of Retirement World, California, pet owners start reporting mysterious cuts on their dogs. Investigation leads to a quasi-Christian religious cult, the Church of the Blood of Christ (CBC). Further investigation leads the police to discover that the CBC has as a ritual, relatively minor in the religion’s dogma, something called the “leaching of the animals of Christ,” in which small pets are given a minor cut by exactly seven believers, and their blood ritually spilled to the ground. This discovery shocks the small retirement community, which consists of privately-owned land governed by a corporation, in which each resident owns shares proportionate to the size of his or her house lot. The town, in addition to home lots, has two main streets with storefronts, a post office and a county sheriff substation. The roads are privately owned, but link up to the state of California’s road system at either end of the town. A sign at the end of each of the main roads reads “Private P roperty: Residents, Invited Guests and Those on Official Business Only.” At the next meeting of the town’s Board of Directors, the Board enacts the following town ordinance:
“No cutting of live animals shall be allowed except in cases of pest destruction, animals under the care of a doctor, humane euthanasia, and hunting.”
1. In response to the ordinance, the CBC sues.
While the lawsuit is pending, the CBC refrains from performing the ritual described above, but instead, performs a mock-up of that ritual, in which stuffed animals are used along with red Kool-Aid to simulate blood. To increase the town’s awareness of their presence, the cult requests a parade permit to perform the mock-up ritual every Sunday afternoon for the next month. In response, the town’s Board enacts the following ordinance.
“No parades of more than five individuals will take place within the next six months, and such parades as are allowed must include only the marchers and no props of any types.”
2. The CBC amends its lawsuit to challenge this second ordinance.
What claims can the CBC make? How likely is it that they will prevail?