JON B. CUTTER, et al., PETITIONERS
WILKINSON, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF
REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION, et al.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF
APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
[May 31, 2005]
Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.
Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat. 804,
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc
—1(a)(1)—(2), provides in part: “No government shall impose a substantial burden on
the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution,” unless the burden furthers “a
compelling governmental interest,” and does so by “the least restrictive means.” Plaintiffs below,
petitioners here, are current and former inmates of institutions operated by the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction and assert that they are adherents of “nonmainstream” religions: the
Satanist, Wicca, and Asatru religions, and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian.
They complain that Ohio
prison officials (respondents here), in violation of RLUIPA, have failed to accommodate their religious
“in a variety of different ways, including retaliating and discriminating against them for exercising their
nontraditional faiths, denying them access to religious literature, denying them the same opportunities for
group worship that are granted to adherents of mainstream religions, forbidding them to adhere to the
dress and appearance mandates of their religions, withholding religious ceremonial items that are
substantially identical to those that the adherents of mainstream religions are permitted, and failing to
provide a chaplain trained in their faith.” Brief for United States 5.
For purposes of this litigation at its current stage, respondents have stipulated that petitioners are
members of bona fide religions and that they are sincere in their beliefs.
, 221 F. Supp.
2d 827, 833 (SD Ohio 2002).
In response to petitioners’ complaints, respondent prison officials have mounted a facial challenge to
the institutionalized-persons provision of RLUIPA; respondents contend,
, that the Act improperly
advances religion in violation of the
’s Establishment Clause. The District Court denied
respondents’ motion to dismiss petitioners’ complaints, but the Court of Appeals reversed that
determination. The appeals court held, as the prison officials urged, that the portion of RLUIPA applicable
to institutionalized persons,
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc
—1, violates the Establishment Clause. We reverse the
Court of Appeals’ judgment.
“This Court has long recognized that the government may … accommodate religious practices …
without violating the Establishment Clause.”
Unemployment Appeals Comm’n of Fla.,