Cases & Deals

Oregon inmate prevails in Ninth Circuit religious-liberty appeal

Clients McLenithan, Gene Arnold

In this religious-liberty appeal, Jones Day successfully represented an Oregon inmate seeking kosher meal accommodations. Gene McLenithan is a Seventh-day Adventist who sincerely believes he is required to adhere to a kosher diet in accordance with the strictures of the Old Testament. For several years, however, Oregon prison officials declined to allow him to participate in the kosher dietary program that was offered to traditionally Jewish inmates. Mr. McLenithan asserted claims under the Free Exercise Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The district court rejected his claims, holding that the prison's policy was justified because it had a "compelling" interest in limiting kosher meals only to Jewish inmates. Jones Day represented Mr. McLenithan on appeal in the Ninth Circuit, which vacated the district court's decision and remanded for a determination of whether his kosher accommodation request is based on his sincere religious beliefs, and whether the prison policy unconstitutionally discriminated against non-Jewish inmates.

Gene McLenithan, Jr. v. Max Williams, et al., No. 16-35376 (9th Cir.)