Prisoner free exercise cases – February 1, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Mauwee v. Olivas, (9th Cir., Jan. 27, 2016), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint by a Native American inmate that for five months he was deprived of deer antlers used for sweat lodge ceremonies.

In Terry v. Babcock, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6073 (CD CA, Jan. 19, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Jehovah’s Witness inmate’s complaint that he was forced to attend an educational class that violated his beliefs. Plaintiff had asserted that his religious beliefs preclude him from being “a part of any educational class/program which does not include worship, and the timeless teachings of the Creator.”

In San Antonio v. Shipman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8209 (ND FL, Jan. 25, 2016), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175229, Dec. 18, 2015) and dismissed as moot an inmate’s RLUIPA complaint over his removal from the faith-based dormitory. The court dismissed, with leave to amend, plaintiff’s 1st Amendment claim.

In Tatum v. Meisner, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8642 (WD WI, Jan. 26, 2016), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with this claim under RLUIPA that authorities had denied his request for a diet that complies with Nation of Islam rules.

In Moseley v. Spencer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10232 (D MA, Jan. 27, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court ordered an inmate to file an amended complaint or else face dismissal of his complaint that he was forced to choose between his religious (kosher) diet and his medical diet involving an evening snack for diabetes. He also complained that he has not been provided proper food and other items to celebrate Passover.