The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief District Judge
Now before the Court is Defendants' motion for Summary Judgment*fn1 (Doc. 50) and Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. 51). Plaintiff claims that prison officials violated his right to freely exercise his religion as protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") by removing him on several occasions from a prison's religious diet program. Based on the following, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment and denies Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment.
Defendant Randy J. Davis ("Davis"), a twenty year employee of the Bureau of Prisons, was the warden at US Penitentiary - Marion ("USP-Marion") from February 2, 2004 to November 30, 2005. At the time Daly filed this lawsuit, Defendant Patrick Patterson (Patterson") was the supervisory chaplain at USP-Marion and had served as a chaplain at there since 1988. As Supervisory Chaplain, Patterson was responsible for the day to day operations of the religious diet program ("RDP") at Marion.
Daly alleges that while an inmate at USP-Marion, he applied for enrollment in the RDP in order to receive Kosher meals in accordance with his religious beliefs. At the time of his application, Daly asserts that he had practiced Judaism for the previous eight years. The RDP provides inmates with subsidized meals meeting the dietary requirements of their religions; in Daly's case, a Kosher diet. These meals cost the prison 90% more ($2.31 more per inmate per day) than non-RDP meals.
In order to enroll, inmates must agree to the terms and conditions of the program. The RDP requires that inmates only purchase or consume religiously certified foods (e.g. Kosher). Inmates may not eat, purchase or possess uncertified food. Daly agreed to the terms of the RDP on September 15, 2002, and was enrolled in the program. RDP enrollees who violate the conditions of the program may be removed for up to thirty days in order to evaluate the suitability of the program to the inmate. The removal provisions of the RDP are intended to be evaluative rather than punitive. Davis states that strict adherence to the RDP may prevent tensions from rising between sincere and insincere inmates and that this is "extremely important at higher security facilities, where inmates are more prone to violence." (Doc. 48-11 at 3).
Daly was removed from the RDP on three occasions for eating, purchasing, or possessing non-Kosher food items in violation of the terms of his enrollment. On February 19, 2004, he was removed for purchasing non-Kosher ice cream. Daly objected, informally, to his removal stating that there was confusion in the way the ice-cream was labeled. Defendant Patterson addressed the confusion and reinstated Daly in the RDP on February 20, 2004.
On March 5, 2005, Daly traded his Kosher tray for a "regular hot tray" (a non-Kosher food tray). On May 29, 2005, Daly was observed eating non-Kosher "nacho cheese tortilla chips" in violation of the RDP. Daly was removed from the program for thirty days on March 7, 2005 and June 3, 2005 respectively. He did not file any grievances with respect to these removals.
Daly filed his original complaint with this Court on April 18, 2005, alleging violations of his rights under the First and Fifth Amendments arising from his removals from the RDP on February 20, 2004, and March 7, 2005 (Doc. 1). He later amended his complaint to include the removal on June 3, 2005 (Doc. 17). Daly's due process claims were dismissed with prejudice by this Court on February 27, 2006, allowing him to proceed only on his First Amendment claims (Doc. 18).
Davis and Patterson filed their motion for summary judgment on March 30, 2007, alleging, among other things, that the RDP provisions at issue do not violate Daly's rights under the First Amendment (Doc. 48) Daly responded, stating that his sincerity is a fact in dispute and that summary judgment is, therefore, not appropriate (Doc. 51). Davis and Patterson replied stating that Daly's sincerity is not an issue relevant to the motion for summary judgment (Doc. 58).
Following the defendant's summary judgment motion, Daly also filed his own motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. 51). Daly argues that summary judgment should be entered in his favor due to the fact that his removal from the RDP caused him to violate his religious beliefs and eat non-Kosher food, thereby violating his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion.
As these two motions for summary judgment are not factually distinct, the Court will handle them together without ...