As part of Drinker Biddle’s Barbara McDowell Pro Bono Initiative, Florham Park partner Kenneth Wilbur currently represents a dozen Morris County, N.J., churches in a pending lawsuit seeking to bar the County from using tax dollars to preserve historic churches.
The churches and the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders are the defendants in the lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national advocacy group, which argues that the practice of awarding grants to historic churches is unconstitutional.
In January, a Somerset County Superior Court judge ruled that the grants, which are awarded to preserve facades of churches that are contributing structures in established historic districts and that are eligible for inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, advance the secular purpose of historic preservation and do not promote religion. The Supreme Court of New Jersey took the unusual step of taking the case on direct appeal, and is due to hear oral argument in the fall.
Ken discusses the case on News12, a New Jersey station, in this video clip. The case (and Ken’s role) is also noted in a Daily Record article titled “Seven Morris County churches recommended for preservation grants despite ongoing lawsuit.”