Pantusco v. Moore

Patrick Pantusco, an inmate in East Jersey State Prison in Rahway who practices Wicca, requested ACLU-NJ assistance in his efforts to obtain Wiccan books and religious items. He has consistently been denied the materials and told that, "This [Wicca] is not a recognized religion per Chaplaincy Dep't." There are federal cases however acknowledging Wicca as a religion. Among the claims against the State defendants is that they violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which protects religious rights of inmates. The State moved to dismiss the RLUIPA claim, stating that Congress did not have the authority to pass such a law. On November 26, 2003, the ACLU-NJ submitted its brief defending the constitutionality of RLUIPA. In December 2003, the United States Attorney General also filed a brief defending the Act. We await a decision from the District Court judge.

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