Protecting the Religious Rights of Inmates Has Implications beyond the Prison Walls

In 2021, Damon Landor was nearing the end of a sentence for drug possession when prison officials forcibly shaved his head, despite his protests that to do so would violate his religious beliefs as a Rastafarian. Although the law—which could be applied just as easily to observant Jewish convicts—appears to be on his side, as written it is virtually unenforceable. Bobby Miller describes two lawyers’ efforts to change that:

Landor is contesting a lower court’s decision that he is not entitled to damages under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which safeguards the religious freedom of incarcerated persons. [H]is case was dismissed on the theory that RLUIPA does not permit damages against prison officials. State-prison officials in other jurisdictions have also removed the beards and dreadlocks of Muslim and Rastafarian inmates; refused to provide detainees with kosher, halal, or other foods in keeping with religious dietary laws; and prohibited them from wearing hijabs, yarmulkes, and other head coverings.

Zack Tripp, one of the lawyers representing Landor, explained the shocking facts of the case: . . . “In 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit directed Louisiana that it must grant religious exceptions and allow Rastafarian men like Mr. Landor to keep their dreadlocks in prison. Yet, when Mr. Landor handed that decision to the prison officials just weeks before his release, they tossed the court’s opinion, shackled him to the table, and had him shaven completely bald. Mr. Landor’s allegations show that, without a damages remedy, Congress’s protections and the court’s decisions interpreting those protections aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. No damages means no accountability.”

RLUIPA isn’t only relevant for the imprisoned. It is a critical statute for religious practitioners everywhere. RLUIPA also provides religious institutions with a means of circumventing restrictive zoning-law limits on their use of real estate. That is why Landor’s case has broader implications and should attract support from all those who care about religious freedom.

Read more at National Review

More about: American law, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy