Orrin Hatch Lauds Supreme Court for Allowing Inmates Religious Freedom

Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Orrin Hatch recently praised the United States Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to uphold an earlier ruling that allowed prison inmates the right to wear a beard as an exercise of their religious faith.

The ruling in the Holt versus Hobbs case, was based on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that was first introduced by Hatch in 2000. The case was filed in July of that year, after a court in Arkansas ruled that Muslim prisoners would not be allowed to grow their half-inch-long beard in keeping with Islamic requirements, since prison rules prohibited that practice.

“All Americans, including prison inmates, have the fundamental right to exercise their faith,” Hatch, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “Congress unanimously said in this statute that it should be difficult, not easy, for government to burden the practice of religion and today the Supreme Court unanimously agreed. This decision is a victory for religious freedom.”

On January 20, both the House and the Senate passed the RLUIPA bill unanimously. Under this law, the government cannot substantially burden the religious practice of institutionalized people unless doing so is the least restraining means of forwarding a compelling government interest. The text of this new law is the same as the one that appears in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Photo Credits: MacTrast

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