Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rastafarian Minister's Trespass Arrest did Not Violate His Free Exercise Rights

In Brown v. Jordan, (WD AR, Feb. 14, 2019), a Rastafarian minister sued over his arrest that grew out of his picketing for passage of a medical marijuana issue on the 2016 Arkansas ballot. The court rejected his claim that his arrest violated his free exercise rights, saying in part:
In this case, Plaintiff was advocating for the passage of the Medical Marijuana Act. While the Act's passage would, in his view, pave the way for his church to lawfully use marijuana in its ceremonies, his advocacy did not itself involve his exercise of a religious belief. Furthermore, the officers who arrested him appeared at the Flash Market in response to a claim that Plaintiff was trespassing, as he had remained on the Flash Market property after having been asked to leave and was bothering the customers. No action the officers took on October 16, 2016 inhibited Plaintiff from practicing or exercising his religious beliefs. Therefore, no free exercise claim is stated, and this claim is dismissed.