Friday, September 17, 2021

Arkansas Supreme Court Rejects Inmate's Complaint Over Withholding Of NOI Publications

In Muntaqim v. Payne, (AR Sup. Ct., Sept. 16, 2021), the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit litigated pro se by a Nation of Islam inmate who contested prison officials' withholding of multiple copies of the NOI publication Final Call for review because of racist and inflammatory content. Plaintiff also alleged that the mailroom supervisor destroyed five copies of NOI books. Responding to appellant's RLUIPA and free exercise claims, the court said in part:

The prison must permit a reasonable opportunity for an inmate to engage in religious activities but need not provide unlimited opportunities to do so. Id. Muntaqim’s claims that the appellees restricted access to some but not all NOI religious literature did not state sufficient facts that appellees placed a substantial burden on the exercise of his religious practices.

The court also rejected free speech, equal protection, due process, access to courts and Establishment Clause claims.