Prisoner free exercise cases – May 12, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Widi v. United States Department of Justice, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62269 (D ME, May 1, 2013), a Maine federal district court dismissed as “fanciful” an inmate’s claims, including free exercise claims, objecting to a tuberculosis test. 

In Cox v. Glebe, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66497 (WD WA, May 9, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66563, March 29, 2013) and rejected a Protestant inmate’s claim that prison authorities violated the establishment clause by serving all inmates meatless meals on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. 

In Irvin v. Yates, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66564 (ED CA, May 9, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates were denied access to the chapel and forced to attend religious services in the yard, and that they were denied religious dietary accommodations. Claims as to temporary suspension of inmate purchases of religious oils, and as to failure to hire a new Muslim chaplain were dismissed with leave to amend. 

In Spivey v. Chapman, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66828 (SD IL. May 10, 2013), an Illinois federal district court adopted part of a magistrate’s recommendation and permitted a Reform Jewish inmate to proceed with his claim that authorities refused for discriminatory reasons to modify his work schedule so he could take off for his Sabbath. However it concluded that his RLUIPA claim for injunctive relief is moot because he has been moved to a different prison. 

In Hicks v. Ryan, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66930 (D MA, May 9, 2013), a Massachusetts federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that prison authorities barred wheelchair bound inmates from attending church services and instead limited them to short bedside visits from nuns. 

In Perkins v. Chandler, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66715 (WD KY, May 9, 2013), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that denial of his parole was based on false charges of homosexual conduct in retaliation for his practice of the Islamic religion, and that the charges were a defamation of his religion.