February 3, 2014 4th Circuit published opinion

Wall v Wade

Wall sued for money damages and injunctive relief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment from Wade’s refusal to allow Wall to participate in Ramadan for lacking tangible indicia of sincere religious belief. The district court granted Wade summary judgment ruling Wade’s transfer to another facility rendered his claims moot, the policy had been changed and Wade was entitled to qualified immunity. The panel vacated and remanded. It held Wade’s claims were not moot as he has been transferred back into the facility in question and the state has provided no evidence that the physical indicia rule will not be put back into effect. It also held Wade’s rights were violated because the policy did not rationally serve to reduce costs associated with providing Ramadan meals, Wall was absolutely prohibited from observing Ramadan, there were no evidence that accommodating Wall would have created any costs tot eh state and there were alternative means to resolve the issue as evidenced by Wall being allowed to observe Ramadan after his return to the facility. The panel also held that the right to participate in Ramadan was clearly established under 4th Circuit precedent and immunity was thus unavailable.

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