Prisoner free exercise cases – September 7, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jenkins v. Meyers, (9th Cir., Sept. 4, 2014), the 9th Circuit upheld a prison’s action in returning a package containing religious prayer oil sent by an unapproved religious vendor.

In Woodward v. Perez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121329 (SD NY, Aug. 29, 2014), a New York federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity and mootness grounds a Muslim inmate’s complaint that his religious rights were infringed when he was requied to shower in the presence of a female officer and a “known homosexual” fellow-inmate.

In Lindsey v. Butler, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121364 (SD NY, Aug. 29, 2014), a New York federal district court permitted a Black Sunni Muslim plaintiff to proceed with his claim that his free exercise and 4th Amendment rights were infringed when police forcibly shave his facial hair for purposes of a police lineup.

In Green v. Director/Secretary California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121485 (SD CA, Aug. 29, 2014), a California federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied access to a sweat lodge, was harassed and intimidated, and had his religious items confiscated.

In Rowe v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123884 (SD IN, Sept. 5, 2014), an Indiana federal district court rejected claims by a White Supremacist inmate who was a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian (the religious arm of Aryan Nations) that policies of the Indiana Department of Corrections interfered with his abillity to practice his religion. The challenged policies involved security threat groups, offender visitation, property limits, offender correspondence and a policy that prevents him from wearing a swastika necklace.