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Principle! At the Supreme Court!


To its credit, a unanimous Supreme Court held today that an Arkansas prison refusing to allow Muslim prisoners to maintain a short beard violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. This should be an easy case in light of Hobby Lobby, given that the burden was much more substantial and the justifications for the burden much weaker. But I wouldn’t have been shocked to see either a de facto Muslim exemption or an unquestioning deference to prison officials (which has not been unknown to the Roberts Court’s conservative members.) I’m happy that my concerns were misplaced.

Ginsburg’s concurring opinion, joined by Sotomayor, should be quoted in full:

Unlike the exemption this Court approved in Burwell v.Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc, accommodating petitioner’s religious belief in this case would not detrimentally affect others who do not share petitioner’s belief. On that understanding, I join the Court’s opinion.

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