Court limits inmate lawsuits over religious rights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2011 10:20 AM
Court limits inmate lawsuits over religious rights

The Supreme Court has ruled that a federal law intended to protect the religious rights of prison inmates bars most lawsuits that seek money from states that violate the law.

The court said in a 6-2 decision Wednesday that inmates may file suit to force states to change their policies, but without the threat of monetary damages that might cause states to speed those changes.

The Obama administration and Christian groups warned that a ruling against the inmates would undermine the effectiveness of the 11-year-old law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The court ruled in a suit filed by Texas prison inmate Harvey Sossamon, who complained that he was denied the chance to participate in Christian worship services.