Holt v. Hobbs (U.S. Supreme Court)

Gregory Holt, a state inmate who is a Muslim, sought an exemption from his prison’s no-facial-hair policy to grow a short beard consistent with his religious beliefs. The prison’s policy already provided the same exemption for dermatological reasons. The district court and Eighth Circuit found that Holt is not entitled to an exemption under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. After the Supreme Court granted certiorari, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. We argued that government may ameliorate the burdens that it has placed on religious exercise when—as in this case—doing so would not impinge on the rights, or otherwise harm the interests, of third parties. The Supreme Court reversed the Eighth Circuit’s decision, and a concurrence by Justice Ginsburg (joined by Justice Sotomayor) emphasized that the accommodation at issue was appropriate because it “would not detrimentally affect others who do not share petitioner’s belief.”


Amicus Brief