News & Events
U.S. Supreme Court Upholds RLUIPA
Professor David Goldberger says it is a victory for all religious exercise in prisons
May 31, 2005
Today the United States Supreme Court upheld Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in Cutter v. Wilkinson, a case in which David Goldberger, professor in the clinical programs at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, represents current and former prison inmates seeking accommodation under the statute of their rights to exercise their religions.
The Sixth Circuit had held the RLUIPA statute was invalid as a violation of the United States Constitution's Establishment Clause.
The case involves prisoners who sued the State of Ohio claiming they were wrongfully denied access to religious literature and ceremonial items for the practice of their non-mainstream religions. The statute, which was enacted by Congress in 2000, requires states to accommodate prisoners' religious beliefs unless the prison officials can show that there is compelling reason not to accommodate the request.
"We are delighted with the result that there is no establishment of religion problem here," said Goldberger. "We will work together with the State of Ohio to assure that the statute is equitably and properly applied in the resolution of our cases."
Had the Sixth Circuit decision been upheld," he added, "the state of Ohio would have been required to give up the accommodations it currently provides to 'traditionally-recognized religions.' These include chaplains paid by the Department of Corrections. We consider this a victory for all religious exercise in prisons."
Since 1891, the Moritz College of Law has played a leading role in the legal profession through countless contributions made by alumni and faculty. Graduates of the school reside in all 50 states and 20 other countries and include justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, current and former U.S. senators and representatives, managing partners in law firms of all sizes, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 corporations, and attorneys with nonprofit organizations and public interest law firms.