Sunday, September 19, 2021

Muslim Women Can Move Ahead With Suit Challenging NYPD Arrest Photo Policy

In Clark v. City of New York, (SD NY, Sept. 17, 2021), a New York federal district court allowed two Muslim women to move ahead with their lawsuit under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA challenging the New York City police department's requirement that they remove their hijab when sitting for an arrest photo. The court said in part:

Allowing an arrestee to maintain her ordinary appearance in a Booking Photograph does not undermine the legitimate interest of keeping a photographic record of arrestees... In fact, photographing the arrestee in her ordinary appearance likely furthers law enforcement’s interest in identification—rather than impeding such interest—because arrestees who have a sincere religious belief that requires them to wear a head covering are likely to be wearing that same covering when the need to identify them arises.

The court also refused to dismiss one of the plaintiff's assertion of a private right of action under the New York constitution.