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4th Amendment Violation – Search & Seizure Religious Accommodations

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Rufus West v. Dylon Radtke

Case No.: 20-1570

Officials: SYKES, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and BRENNAN, Circuit Judges

Focus: 4th Amendment Violation – Search & Seizure Religious Accommodations

West is confined at Wisconsin’s Green Bay Correctional Institution where he must undergo strip searches by prison staff on regular occasions.

West is a Muslim. Strip searches by prison guards of the opposite sex violate the moral tenets of his faith, which prohibit him from exposing his body to a woman who is not his wife. In July 2016 he was required to submit to a strip search by a guard who is a transgender man—a woman who identifies as a man. West objected on religious grounds but was refused an accommodation.

West seeks an injunction against cross-sex strip searches under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq. Separately, he asserts a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

The district court dismissed the constitutional claim based on circuit precedent holding that a prisoner has no Fourth Amendment interest against visual inspections of his No. 20-1570 3 body. West asks us to reverse this ruling based on Henry v. Hulett, 969 F.3d 769 (7th Cir. 2020) (en banc), which overruled that precedent. The RLUIPA claim failed on cross-motions for summary judgment.

We reverse. Henry revives the Fourth Amendment claim. And West is entitled to judgment in his favor on the RLUIPA claim. There’s no dispute that his objection to cross-sex strip searches is both religious in nature and sincere.

Reversed

 

Decided 9/16/22

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