Prisoner free exercise cases – January 21, 2019

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Sterling v. Sellers, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1522 (11th Cir., Jan. 16, 2019), the 11th Circuit refused to allow a previously litigious inmate to proceed without paying a filing fee under the imminent danger exception. The inmate alleged that prison officials use physical force against Muslims to stop their congregate prayers in dorms.

In Blankumsee v. Foxwell, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4574 (D MD, Jan. 10, 2019), a Maryland federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by a Christian inmate that serving him turkey sausages made with pork stock violated his religious beliefs.

In Bell v. English, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5425 (D KA, Jan. 11, 2019), a Kansas federal district court gave an inmate 3 weeks to show cause not to dismiss his complaint that he was without his Bible for 3 days after a search.

In Dayton v. Lisenbee, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5435 (ED MO, Jan. 11, 2019), a Missouri federal district court held that there is no constitutional requirement that a jail create religious services for prisoners, at least in the absence of a demand for particular religious services or an allegation that group services are the only meaningful way for an inmate to practice his religion.

In Scales v. Walker, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9055 (WD WI, Jan. 18, 2019), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise and other rights were infringed when a correctional officer attempted to serve him a waffle that had dropped on the floor and refused to replace his Kosher meal when plaintiff learned what had happened.