Supreme Court upholds inmates’ religious liberty rights

In a unanimous decision yesterday, the United States Supreme Court upheld the religious liberty rights of prisoners. 

“We applaud this decision by the Supreme Court, not simply because it underscores prisoners’ First Amendment rights, but because it sustains a larger issue—the issue of religious liberty in general,” said Catholic League president William Donohue.

“The Catholic League frequently receives complaints from Catholic prisoners who maintain that their religious-liberty rights have been violated,” said Donohue. The league probes each case individually to verify its authenticity, he said.

The high court overturned the Sixth Circuit’s decision to nix the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. This federal legislation was designed to protect religious rights from being invalidated by an interpretation of the so-called establishment clause of the First Amendment.

In her ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the Act was not written “to elevate accommodation of religious observances over an institution’s need to maintain order and safety.” Neither does it give prisoners who practice their religion “a preferred status in the prison community.” 

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