Fighting Discriminatory Land-Use Policies in St. James Parish


Rise St. James, a fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island, along with co-plaintiffs, Inclusive Louisiana and Mount Baptist Church, filed a civil rights lawsuit against St. James Parish, the St. James Parish Council, and the St. James Parish Planning Commission to challenge the discriminatory and harmful land-use plan in St. James Parish that concentrates polluting industries in majority Black districts of the parish.The land-use plan violates both the equal protection and the substantive due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lawsuit is brought under the Thirteenth Amendment, challenging the land-use plan as a badge and incident of slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment, arguing that the land-use plan violates both Equal Protection and substantive Due Process; 42 U.S.C. 1982, challenging the devaluation of property because of polluting industry and restrictions on subdivision as limiting; and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, challenging land-use ordinance for its discrimination against non-Catholic churches and the substantial burden it places on the religious practices of Black residents by blocking access to the grave sites of their ancestors. Earth Island Institute along with Rise St. James aims to address the land-use issue by challenging the permissions granted to both the Formosa Plastics complex and the South Louisiana Methanol project, as well as enjoining further industrial land-use permissions until the discrimination can be remedied.

Significant Developments

March 21, 2023: Case Update

Plaintiffs file landmark civil rights lawsuit against St. James Parish, St. James Parish Council, and St. James Parish Planning Commission in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.


Rise St. James

Legal Team

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic

Focus Area

Pollution and Toxics