Zhang Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance Inc.

18-2626 Zhang Jingrong, et al. v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance Inc., et al. In the United States Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit ______________ August Term 2019 (Argued: October 3, 2019 Decided: October 14, 2021) Docket No. 18-2626 ______________ ZHANG JINGRONG, ZHOU YANHUA, ZHANG PENG, ZHANG CUIPING, WEI MIN, LO KITSUEN, CAO LINJUN, HU YANG, GUO XIAOFANG, GAO JINYING, CUI LINA, XU TING, BIAN HEXIANG, Plaintiffs–Counter-Defendants–Appellees, –v.– CHINESE ANTI-CULT WORLD ALLIANCE INC., MICHAEL CHU, LI HAUHONG, WAN HONGJUAN, ZHU ZIROU, Defendants–Counter-Plaintiffs–Appellants, DOES 1-5, INCLUSIVE, Defendants. * ______________ B e f o r e: WALKER, LEVAL, and CARNEY, Circuit Judges. * The Clerk of Court is directed to amend the official case caption as set forth above. ______________ The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (“FACEA”) prohibits a person from intentionally injuring, intimidating, or interfering with another who is exercising her religion “at a place of religious worship.” 18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(2). Plaintiffs– Counter-Defendants–Appellees (“Plaintiffs”) are Falun Gong practitioners who passed out flyers and displayed posters, primarily protesting the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Falun Gong, at sidewalk tables in Flushing, Queens, New York. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants–Counter-Plaintiffs–Appellants (“Defendants”) harassed them in the vicinity of these tables—the claimed “place of religious worship”—in violation of FACEA. After the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court (Weinstein, J.) determined that the sidewalk tables were “a place of religious worship” as a matter of law. Rejecting Defendants’ constitutional challenge, the district court further held that Congress did not exceed its Commerce Clause authority in enacting § 248(a)(2). On interlocutory appeal, we conclude that “a place of religious worship” means anywhere that religious adherents collectively recognize or religious leadership designates as a space primarily to gather for or hold religious worship activities. The Flushing tables do not qualify because the undisputed record shows that Plaintiffs and their fellow practitioners treated the tables primarily as a base for protesting the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged abuses against Falun Gong, rather than for religious worship. Because the § 248(a)(2) claim fails on this statutory ground, we do not reach the constitutional issue. We therefore REVERSE the district court’s partial grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs and its denial of summary judgment to Defendants, and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. Judge Walker concurs in the court’s opinion, and files a separate concurring opinion. REVERSED AND REMANDED. ______________ TOM M. FINI, Catafago Fini LLP, New York, NY (Edmond W. Wong, Law Office of Edmond W. Wong, PLLC, Flushing, NY, on the brief), for Defendants–Counter- Plaintiffs–Appellants. 2 TERRI E. MARSH, Human Rights Law Foundation, Washington, D.C., JAMES A. SONNE, Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic, Stanford, CA (Joshua S. Moskovitz, Bernstein Clarke & Moskovitz PLLC, New York, NY, on the brief), for Plaintiffs–Counter- Defendants–Appellees. Sirine Shebaya, Juvaria Khan, Muslim Advocates, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae Muslim Advocates. ______________ CARNEY, Circuit Judge: This appeal presents the question of whether five tables on the sidewalk in Flushing, Queens, New York—where Plaintiffs–Counter-Defendants–Appellees (“Plaintiffs”) passed out …

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