Supreme Court, Beard: Muslim Prisoner OK, Justices Say.
Religious freedom win at SCOTUS
Prisoners have the right to grow beards for religious reasons, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously this morning in the case of Muslim Arkansas inmate Gregory Holt. Arkansas officials had argued Holt’s half-inch beard presented a security risk, while Holt’s representatives said a 2000 law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act protected his right to grow it. From USA Today:
The unanimous opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, had been widely anticipated despite two lower court decisions upholding the state’s no-beard policy.
“We readily agree that (the state) has a compelling interest in staunching the flow of contraband into and within its facilities,” Alito said. “But the argument that this interest would be seriously compromised by allowing an inmate to grow a half-inch beard is hard to take seriously.”
Widespread skepticism toward the state’s security-driven argument was obvious in October when justices heard oral arguments in the case, SCOTUSBlog wrote at the time.