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ADL Welcomes Supreme Court Decision Upholding Religious Accommodation Statute

New York, NY, May 31, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of a federal statute that safeguards religious freedom for inmates and other state-institutionalized persons.

In Cutter v. Wilkinson, the Court ruled that Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is a constitutional religious accommodation under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.  Enacted by Congress in 2000, RLUIPA protects the religious freedom of institutionalized persons, as well as houses of worship in the land-use context.  The statute requires that prisons must have a compelling reason before they can restrict a prisoner's right to practice his or her religion. 

"In upholding the federal statute, the Supreme Court struck the correct balance between religious freedom and the security needs of prisons," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "Prisoners and other institutionalized persons are now guaranteed strong protections against arbitrary and frivolous restrictions on their religious practices.  The Court, however, made it clear that these protections do not rise above potential threats to prison safety and security."

As a longtime advocate for religious freedom, ADL strongly supports RLUIPA. Along with other concerned organizations, the League successfully lobbied for its passage and has continued its advocacy by submitting friend of the court legal briefs in this case and others defending the constitutionality of RLUIPA.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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ADL Religious Freedom Update

ADL Amicus Brief in Cutter v. Wilkinson (.pdf)
ADL Supports Federal Statute in Religious-Freedom Land Use Cases
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