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Jewish Journal

Ninth Circuit to revisit headscarf case

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 14, 2010 | 8:47 pm

In May, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that Orange County Sheriff’s deputies did not violate a Muslim female inmates civil rights when they forced her to remove a headscarf before being placed into a cell. (Not to be confused with the Disneyland hijab ordeal.) Now the appellate court has agreed to rehear the case en banc.

The San Fransisco Chronicle explains why:

The dispute affects thousands of inmates throughout the nine-state circuit who are taken to holding cells before being brought to court, said Khatib’s lawyer, Becki Kieffer. She said it was the first such case to reach a federal appeals court.

Kieffer argued that the majority in the three-judge panel’s ruling had misinterpreted a federal law that broadly protects inmates’ religious freedoms.

The law prohibits government agencies from imposing a “substantial burden” on the right to practice one’s religion in a prison, jail or pretrial detention facility. The issue in the case is whether a courthouse holding cell, where inmates are held up to 12 hours before hearings, is a pretrial detention facility.

That federal law is the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. I wrote about constitutional challenges to that law back in 2005.

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