On This Date in Legal History

On October 7, 2014, oral argument took place before the United States Supreme Court in Holt v. Hobbs.  A devout Muslim prisoner objected to a prison policy that prevented him from growing a ½-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.  The prison claimed that their grooming policy was necessary to maintain security.  It prevented prisoners from altering their appearance to avoid detection and precluded inmates from hiding contraband in facial hair.

Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito

The Supreme Court unanimously held in a 9-0 opinion that the policy violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.  Justice Alito explained, “the [prison’s] policy substantially burdens [the inmate’s] religious exercise.   Although we do not question the importance of the [prison’s] interests in stopping the flow of contraband and facilitating prisoner identification, we do doubt whether the prohibition against [the inmate’s] beard furthers its compelling interest about contraband.  And we conclude that the [the prison] has failed to show that its policy is the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interests.”  You can listen to the oral argument at https://goo.gl/3O3eY4, or read the decision at https://goo.gl/ZWQFWW.

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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