Prisoner free exercise cases – September 17, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ackerman v. Washington, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151742 (ED MI, Sept. 6, 2018), a Michigan federal district court reinstated Orthodox Jewish inmates claim that providing a vegan diet instead of a kosher diet imposes a substantial burden on the sincere religious beliefs that plaintiffs must eat meat on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays and dairy on Shavuot.

In Luther v. White, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151896 (W KY, Sept. 6, 2018), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a Rastafarian inmate to supplement his prior complaint by adding a claim that he was denied the right to purchase and use incense.

In Ritter v. Davis, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152028 (ND OH, Sept. 6, 2018), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152036, Aug. 20, 2018) and refused to dismiss a Jewish inmate’s complaint that his request for kosher meals was denied.

In Pleasant-Bey v. Luttrell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152864 (WD TN, Sept. 7, 2018), a Tennessee federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s challenges to the prison’s limitations on Jumu’ah services, food service policies regarding Ramadan, and its policies regarding the hiring of an imam.

In Soriano v. Spearman, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153187 (ED CA, Sept. 6, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates, unlike others, were not allowed to perform their prayers in the chapel, requiring them to pray outside in extreme weather conditions.

In Harvey v. Baker, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153802 (WD VA, Sept. 10, 2018), a Virginia federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claim for damages for denial of a pork-free diet that conformed to his Sunni Muslim beliefs.

In Burroughs v. Mitchell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153808 (ND NY, Sept. 6, 2018), a New York federal district court, sorting through a wide-ranging complaint, dismissed an inmate’s complaint that on one occasion defendants refused to provide a Koran, prayer rug, Kufi, and Ramadan meal, but allowed him to move ahead with his claim that one defendant refused to provide him with his religious items in retaliation for his refusal to respond to questions about two other inmates’ escape.

In Dent v. Dennison, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153950 (SD IL, Sept.10, 2018), an Illinois federal district court rejected a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153946, July 13, 2018) and refused to require prison authorities to allow an inmate to attend both Catholic and Protestant religious services.