Ashby v. Arnone
Allegations that after an inmate officially changed his religion, his requests for a special diet and religious materials were denied, may state a cause of action pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, but not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. On Oct. 31, 2012, the plaintiff inmate, Lazale Ashby, allegedly changed his official religion and requested a special diet and religious materials. Ashby allegedly sent corrections officials a copy of his proposed diet and rejected meals that did not meet religious requirements. Ashby sued the defendant correction officials, alleging that they violated his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and his constitutional rights to equal protection, free exercise of religion and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Ashby's complaint did not identify any disability, and the District Court dismissed his claims pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The U.S. Supreme Court has found the Religious Freedom Restoration Act unconstitutional in the state government context, and the District Court dismissed the plaintiff's Religious Freedom Restoration Act count. Ashby's allegations that the defendants violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the U.S. Constitution, because they denied requests for a religious diet and religious materials, survived. The District Court ordered the defendants to file an answer or motion to dismiss within 70 days.