WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court unanimously held in Holt v. Hobbs Wednesday that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act protects the right of a prison inmate to wear a short beard as an exercise of his religious faith. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement:
All Americans, including prison inmates, have the fundamental right to exercise their faith. 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.
Hatch introduced the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act on July 13, 2000, and both the Senate and House passed it by unanimous consent just two weeks later. It prohibits government from substantially burdening the religious exercise of institutionalized persons unless doing so is “the least restrictive means of furthering (a) compelling governmental interest.”
This is the same legal standard that appears in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Submitted by: The Offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch
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