Last week a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend in the case of Fowler v. the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The plaintiffs had alleged a host of violations of their religious liberties over the course of several years, including:
- Lack of access to the prison chapel for Asatru/Odinist worship
- Refusal to order books relating to Asatru/Odinism
- Lack of access to the outdoor worship area for blot
- Confiscation of ritual implements, including a drinking horn
- Refusal to supply religious supplies needed for worship
And many other violations, refusals to accommodate their faith, etc. All together, these amounted to violations of the First Amendment of the Constitution, the RLUIPA, and the California state constitution.
The magistrate denied the case, basically stating that the plaintiff had failed to make a case under the demands of the relevant laws. To my untrained layman’s reading, the Magistrate seems to be saying that there’s no proof of an ongoing and systematic discrimination against Asatru/Odinist prisoners, even though they don’t always get everything they ask for. Still, looking at the lengthy and specific list of times the Asatruar/Odinists were denied the right to assemble for worship and denied what they feel is necessary to worship, it seems to me that there’s something afoot.
We shall see if an amended case is put forth in the future.