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Cutter v. Wilkinson

United States Supreme Court
544 U.S. 709 (2005)


Facts

Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) provides that the government shall not impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person in confinement unless the burden furthers a compelling governmental interest, and does so by the least restrictive means. Cutter and others (plaintiffs) are current and former inmates of institutions operated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and adhere to untraditional religious sects. Cutter complained that prison officials, in violation of RLUIPA, failed to accommodate their religious exercise in various ways. Cutter brought suit against Wilkinson, a prison official, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (defendants) in federal district court. Wilkinson also brought a facial challenge to RLUIPA, arguing that the act improperly advances religion in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The district court granted relief for Cutter, but the court of appeals reversed and held that RLUIPA violates the Establishment Clause.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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