Friday, July 15, 2016

7th Circuit Grants Preliminary Injunction To Wiccan Inmate

In Knowles v. Pfister, (7th Cir., July 13, 2016), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Posner reversed the trial court and ordered entry of a preliminary injunction to allow a Wiccan inmate to wear a one-inch pentacle medallion around his neck.  Finding that the inmate's "freedom of religion has been gratuitously infringed by the prison," the appeals court rejected the Illinois federal district court's reasoning, saying in part:
We have trouble seeing the force of these points—(1) what an adequate remedy at law would be (monetary compensation for the loss of a religious entitlement?); (2) how forbidding a religious observance important to a devout practitioner could be thought harmless to him because other observances remained open to him... and (3) how the plaintiff could obtain any relief unless the warden was enjoined from violating RLUIPA.