I posted on the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy over at the Marquette University Law School Blog. Essentially, I think that the illegality of the state blocking an Islamic Center because it is Islamic is absolutely clear. I do believe that there are legitimate reasons to question the wisdom of placing the project so close to Ground Zero, but I worry about the "precedent" (cultural not legal) that would be set by withdrawal of the project in the face of public pressure. I am not comfortable with people being forced to back down from the exercise of their rights of free speech or religion as a result of public pressure and that applies to the Cordoba project as well as systematic efforts to, for example, ostracize supporters of California's Proposition 8 or boycott persons or organizations who contribute to the wrong candidate.
Perhaps the controversy could have been avoided had Mayor Bloomberg and other NYC officials recognized the potential problem earlier and engaged the sponsors on the issue or if the project's sponsors were more attuned to the legitimate concerns that the project raises and more willing to take steps to defuse them. But, as things stand now, whatever the resolution of this controversy turns out to be, it will be less than ideal.
My own sense is that, rather than call for the relocation of the project, the project's sponsors ought to be called upon to acknowledge its symbolic dangers and to take steps to diffuse them such as incorporating into the project a prominent condemnation of the concept of violent jihad (explicitly linked to 9-11) and a call for those who engage in it to repent.