Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
November 22, 2011, Submitted; January 13, 2012, Decided
[*451] Posner, Circuit Judge. The plaintiff, a former inmate of the Big Muddy Correctional Center, an Illinois prison, brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a correctional officer who ordered the forcible shearing of the plaintiff's dreadlocks. The plaintiff argues that the order (which was carried out) violated the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. The district judge granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case.
] Inmates' complaints that prison authorities have infringed their religious rights commonly include a claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq., which confers greater religious rights on prisoners than the free exercise clause has been interpreted to do. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1; [**2] Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 714-17, 125 S. Ct. 2113, 161 L. Ed. 2d 1020 (2005). The plaintiff doesn't mention the Act, but he is proceeding pro se and in such cases we interpret the free exercise claim to include the statutory claim. Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 670 (7th Cir. 2009). But the Act can no longer do him any good. Although his complaint is none too clear, he appears to be seeking damages against the defendant in both the latter's official capacity and his personal capacity, and the former claim is barred by the state's sovereign immunity, Sossamon v. Texas, 131 S. Ct. 1651, 1658-61, 179 L. Ed. 2d 700 (2011); Vinning-El v. Evans, 657 F.3d 591, 592 (7th Cir. 2011), and the latter claim cannot be based on the Act because ] the Act does not create a cause of action against state employees in their personal capacity. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 886-89 (7th Cir. 2009). It does authorize injunctive relief, which the plaintiff initially sought along with damages, but he's since been released from prison, so his injunctive claim is moot and he is left with his personal-capacity damages claim under section 1983.
] Illinois prison inmates are allowed to "have any length of hair" they want, provided, so far as bears on this case, [**3] that it "do[es] not create a security risk." 20 Ill. Admin. Code 502.110(a). The defendant ordered the plaintiff's dreadlocks cut off on the ground that they posed a security risk, [*452] though he did not explain why. The plaintiff complained to the prison chaplain, who informed him that only inmates who are Rastafarians are permitted to wear dreadlocks. The plaintiff is not a Rastafarian, but a member of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem; and according to the chaplain the members of that sect are not required by their faith to wear dreadlocks (this appears to be correct), and therefore, he concluded, the plaintiff was not entitled to wear them. (It's the "therefore" that's the issue in this appeal.) The plaintiff filed an internal prison grievance, but it was denied on the basis of the chaplain's theological opinion.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
666 F.3d 450 *; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 730 **; 2012 WL 130454
OMAR GRAYSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HAROLD SCHULER, Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: Later proceeding at Grayson v. Schuler, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24391 (S.D. Ill., Feb. 22, 2013)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:09-cv-00335-MJR—Michael J. Reagan, Judge.
Grayson v. Schuler, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6245 (S.D. Ill., Jan. 24, 2011)
Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.
religious, dreadlocks, hair, wear, inmates, prison, vow, religious observance, long hair, authorities, religion, rights, ban, observances, sect
Civil Procedure, Parties, Pro Se Litigants, Pleading Standards, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Prisoner Rights, Freedom of Religion, Public Health & Welfare Law, Social Services, Institutionalized Individuals, Advocacy & Protection, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion