IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
September 22, 2009
MONDREA VINNING EL, PLAINTIFF,
JOHN EVANS AND CHAPLAIN SUTTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, District Judge
The Court raises this matter, sua sponte, as part of its inherent power to manage its docket. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is pending. (Doc. 63). Plaintiff timely filed a response. (Doc. 67). Neither Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment or Plaintiff's Response addresses the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. In particular, neither party addresses whether RLUIPA's "substantial burden" test is applicable to this case.
The 7th Circuit recently stated that "[o]ur sister circuits have held, and we agree, that a prisoner who does not plead a RLUIPA violation specifically, but does allege unconstitutional restrictions on religious practice, states a claim under the statute." Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 669 (7th Cir. 2009). While stated in the context of the court's review of a threshold dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint, the court's blanket statement does not appear limited to such situations. In a subsequent case, the court seemingly reinforced the blanket applicability of RLUIPA's substantial burden test by stating that "[s]section 1983 First Amendment, RLUIPA, and [the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act] claims all use the substantial burden test to determine whether a violation of a plaintiff's religious free exercise rights has occurred." Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 877 (7th Cir. 2009).
Thus, the Court ORDERS the parties to submit briefs addressing the following issues: (a) RLUIPA's applicability or lack thereof to this case; and (b) the extent to which the cases of Nelson v. Miller and Ortiz v. Downey cited above along with Koger v. Bryan, 523 F.3d 789 (7th Cir. 2008) control this case. The briefs are due thirty days from the date of this Order in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6. Additionally, the briefs should be no longer than twenty (20) double-spaced typewritten pages in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(d).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
David R. Herndon Chief Judge United States District Court
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