Suit challenges portion of newly approved Missouri constitutional amendment

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

Only one day after Missouri voters approved a state constitutional amendment [August 7, 2012] providing extensive protections for religious expression (see prior posting), the ACLU announced the filing of a class action in federal district court challenging on federal constitutional grounds one aspect of the amendment.  A portion of the amendment provides that  the religious freedom rights of prisoners in state or local custody will be limited to the rights granted by federal law.  More extensive religious liberty protections under the state constitution will not apply to prisoners.  The class action complaint (full text) in Qandah v. Lombardi, (WD MO, filed 8/8/2012) contends that  this withdraws existing state protections of religious liberty from prisoners in violation of the federal Establishment Clause and Equal Protection Clause. It alleges: “The challenged provision has the principal or primary effect of inhibiting religion among prisoners in Missouri.”