On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Holt v. Hobbs, which concerns whether the Arkansas Department of Correction's grooming policy, which generally prohibits inmates from growing beards save for a narrow health-based exception, violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by impermissibly burdening the religious liberty of a Muslim inmate seeking to grow a half-inch beard for religious reasons.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, the Court unanimously held that the Arkansas prison’s grooming policy, as applied in this case, violated RLUIPA because it substantially burdened the prisoner’s religious exercise and was not narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s security needs.
Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion which Justice Sotomayor joined. Justice Sotomayor also filed a concurring opinion. The judgment of the Eighth Circuit was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.
To discuss the case, we have Jordan Lorence, who is senior counsel and senior vice-president of the Office of Strategic Initiatives for Alliance Defending Freedom.