Patel v. United States Bureau of Prisons, 515 F.3d 807The inmate alleged that defendants violated his right to practice his religion by failing to provide him with appropriate meals in compliance with his religious beliefs. Additionally, the inmate argued that the alternative means by which he may practice his Muslim faith through dietary accommodation offered by the Bureau of Prisons were inadequate. The court found that the inmate had not presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that his right to exercise his religion was substantially burdened. The court reasoned that the record did not indicate whether the inmate requested or would be allowed to store halal food from the kitchen in his cell, such as peanut butter and bread, so that he could have a halal meal on days that kosher meat entrees were served. Also, the inmate did not address why less expensive food items available at the commissary, such as beans, rice, tortillas, cheese, oatmeal, and peanut butter, could not serve as a substitute for the kosher meat entrees. Regarding the equal protection claim, the court found that the inmate had not presented any evidence suggesting that defendants acted with a discriminatory purpose.
Yellow Flag- Caution, Distinguished by 8 cases and criticized by 1
Eighth Circuit BINDING
HN4 - RLUIPA Claims
Courts generally have found that no "substantial burden" exists if the regulation merely makes the practice of a religious belief more expensive.
Cited Murphy v. Mo. Dep't of Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 988 (8th Cir. 2004)
Substantially burdening one's free exercise of religion means that the regulation:
must significantly inhibit or constrain conduct or expression that manifests some central tenet of a person's individual religious beliefs; must meaningfully curtail a person's ability to express adherence to his or her faith; or must deny a person reasonable opportunities to engage in those activities that are fundamental to a person's religion.