Nelson v. Miller, No. 08-2044
In a prisoner civil rights action brought under the First Amendment, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, district court judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) plaintiff's religious exercise was substantially burdened by the procedural requirements for obtaining a religious diet and by defendant's refusal to grant him a non-meat diet on Fridays and during Lent; 2) the court properly held there was no violation of the Establishment Clause as there were valid neutral reasons for defendant's actions; 3) the court properly held that sovereign immunity bars any suit against defendant in his official capacity as prison chaplain under Section 1983 and RLUIPA; and 4) the court erred in holding determining that the IRFRA allows Illinois prison officials to be sued in their official capacities in federal court. However, before damages are assessed the case is remanded to determine whether defendant's procedures and conduct were in furtherance of a compelling government interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that interest, and whether defendant is entitled to qualified immunity.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Argued February 25, 2009
Decided July 1, 2009
Before FLAUM, WILLIAMS, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by Flaum, Circuit Judge.
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