Supreme Court rules against inmate in federal prison Koran seizure case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled Tuesday that a prison inmate cannot bring a lawsuit against federal prison guards over the handling of the inmate's possessions under the Federal Tort Claims Act [text]. In Ali v. Federal Bureau of Prisons [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], Abdus-Shahid Ali sued prison officials working for both the District of Columbia Department of Corrections and the US Bureau of Prisons, arguing that they illegally confiscated his religious property, including copies of the Koran and his prayer rug, and harassed him for expressing his Muslim faith while in custody. The Federal Tort Claims Act includes an exception [28 USC 2680(c)] barring claims for detained property against "law enforcement officers," but Ali argued that the exception applies to officials working in an excise or customs capacity. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and affirmed the Eleventh Circuit's opinion [PDF text] in the case, concluding "that the broad phrase 'any other law enforcement officer' covers all law enforcement officers."

Read the Court's opinion [text] from Justice Thomas, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Kennedy and a second dissent [text] from Justice Breyer. AP has more.



 

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