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ACLU says DOC should be held in contempt over kosher meals

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is asking a federal judge to hold the state’s Department of Correction in contempt for not offering inmates kosher meals as it had been ordered to do a year ago.

On behalf of four Indiana prisoners, the ACLU-Indiana filed a motion Thursday in the case of Matson Willis, et al. v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, et al, No. 1:09-cv-815 JMS-DML, alleging that the DOC isn’t complying with a December 2010 decision by U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson requiring that kosher diets be provided to prisoners whose religious beliefs require a kosher diet.

The motion comes after Magnus-Stinson’s ruling last year that state prison officials were violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by denying the kosher meals to inmates who requested them. The class-action lawsuit against the DOC commissioner, the religious services director and officials at the Miami Correctional Facility was filed after grievances by Matson Willis, an Orthodox Jew who kept kosher, were denied.

The DOC claimed it had a compelling government interest to keep costs down and that is why it stopped serving kosher meals, but the federal judge disagreed. Willis and others were awarded nominal damages in the amount of $60 and the DOC was ordered to provide “certified kosher meals to all inmates who, for sincerely held religious reasons, request them in writing.”

Although the DOC appealed, the state dropped that appeal before the 7th Circuit in May after the DOC agreed to start offering kosher meals to inmates.

That is not being happening, according to ACLU-Indiana legal director Ken Falk. He said the prisoners seeking enforcement of the court’s judgment have diverse religious beliefs and reside in correctional facilities in Michigan City, Pendleton and Putnamville.

“The court's judgment in this case is clear, and the DOC is not free to disregard it,” Falk said. “The DOC does not have the right to deny these prisoners an intrinsic element of their religious beliefs.”
 

 


 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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