27 Mar

So we took a little break…

Anyway, on March 19 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth District (which includes Minnesota) handed down Sisney v. Reisch. In Sisney, the 8th Circuit agreed with a South Dakota federal district court that ruled that Sisney, a Jewish prisoner, was not entitled to compensatory damages for authorities’ refusal to permit him to erect a succah in the recreation yard so that he could observe the Jewish holiday feast of Sukkot. According to the opinion, Sisney’s attempts were denied on grounds that the structure would present safety and security issues.

Sisney’s suit, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleged such a denial was a violation of his First Amendment free exercise rights. In denying his  motion, the Eighth Circuit panel cited previous United States Supreme Court caselaw holding that “”prison officials may not deny an inmate ‘a reasonable opportunity of pursuing his faith comparable to the opportunity afforded fellow prisoners who adhere to conventional religious precepts.’” Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972).

(H/T Religion Clause)

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