Religious rights of prisoners upheld by Supreme Court

A federal law that requires states to accommodate the religious practices of inmates is constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 doesn't violate separation of church and state. Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the state of Ohio's interpretation of the law as too broad because it would deny all forms of religious expression.

The ruling affirms, on narrow grounds, that Congress has the power to "shield religious exercise through legislative accommodation," as Ginsburg observed. Congress passed laws like RLUIPA to allow federally recognized tribal members to use peyote in religious ceremonies even though peyote is classified as an illegal drug.

Get the Story:
Prisoners' Religious Rights Law Upheld (The Washington Post 6/1)
Supreme Court Rules in Ohio Prison Case (The New York Times 6/1)

Decision in Cutter v. Ohio:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Thomas]

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