Huge News: California Prisons Don't Have to Subsidize Wicca

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/06/01/37004.htm

Here is the Court Case:

Here you can download court decision as PDF: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/06/01/09-16404.pdf

California Prisons Don't Have to Subsidize Wicca
By TIM HULL
ShareThis

(CN) - The 9th Circuit on Wednesday rejected a Wiccan chaplain's claims that the California prison system should add a celebrant of Wicca and other pagan or nature-based religions to its paid chaplaincy program.
Without reflecting on the merits of the Wiccan religion, the federal appeals court in San Francisco dashed Patrick McCollum's First Amendment, free-exercise and equal-protection claims against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Rather the court concluded that the volunteer chaplain lacked standing because he "attempts to transform his employment discrimination action into an effort to vindicate the inmates' First Amendment rights."
The paid-chaplaincy program has evolved in California's prison system since the 1930s, and today it employs clergy of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Native American faiths.
According to 2002 estimates, there are approximately 598 inmates in the system who identify themselves as Wiccan, a term that the ruling says includes "faith groups consisting of Wiccans, Goddess worshipers, Neo-Pagans, Pagans, Norse Pagans (and any other ethnic designation), Earth Religionists, Old Religionists, Druids, Shamans, Asatrus, and those practicing in the Faery, Celtics, Khemetic, Gardnerian, Church of All Worlds, Reclaiming, Dianic, Alexandrian, Iseum of Isis, Reconstructionist, Odinist or Yoruban Traditions, and other similar nature-based faiths." (Parenthesis in original.)
In 2006, McCollum and a group of seven inmates sued the CDCR, arguing that its failure to include a Wiccan chaplain in its paid-chaplaincy program was discriminatory in that it denied them access to worship spaces, sacred items and free worship. Finding that the inmates' claims were both time-barred and unexhausted, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted summary judgment to the agency. Breyer also ruled that McCollum lacked standing to bring such a third-party action in asserting, essentially, that the agency's failure to hire him violated the prisoners' rights.
The three-judge appeals panel agreed with the lower court on all points and ruled unanimously to affirm.
"McCollum challenges the deliberative process, or in his view the alleged lack of process, through which prison officials have thus far measured inmates' needs and accommodated inmates' free exercise rights," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. "His claim, at bottom, asserts not his own rights, but those of third-party inmates."
Since inmates can file their own claims against the program's merits and the lack of a Wiccan minister, McCollum cannot do so for them. Thus, McCollum failed to show one of the essential requirements for third-party standing, the panel ruled.
"Like the district court, we note that prisoners have challenged the program in this very lawsuit and in at least one similar suit," McKeown wrote. "Although the inmates' claims here were dismissed primarily for failure to exhaust, presumably they would have the opportunity to bring similar claims in the future if they comply with procedural requirements. It is the inmates, not McCollum, who have standing to pursue the primary claim he articulated, namely, that the chaplaincy policy 'has the pernicious effect of depriving inmates of other religious accommodations . . . that are afforded to ... inmates [of the five faiths].'"
McCollum also failed to meet the criteria for taxpayer standing, the panel found, as he "does not challenge the expenditure of government funds to provide paid chaplaincies nor even the existence of denomination-specific paid chaplaincies-he challenges only the current allocation of chaplaincies among religious denominations and the procedure for determining such allocations."

Views: 286

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

we have to post post and repost this in support of Patrick http://www.witchschool.com/forum/topics/huge-news-california-prisons
Larry did you put a copy on FaceBook????
yes
This is awful, I mentor an Inmate at one of the California State Prisons
thats just absolutely crazy, how come we are never treated as any other religion? I thinks its a case of people fear what they dont understand but the problem is people dont try to understand, thats why alot are afraid to come out to family and friends, im lucky in the fact that my mom and one of my brothers understands but i am still afraid to tell some of my friends because of the judgement eventhough im not ashamed at all!
I would still be really careful about who knows what. In the end, the need to spout our religious ideas could bite us in the ass with work and such.
Actually if you really read what was said by the appeals panel they agreed that the suit was valid but that the person that filed the suit had no business filing the suit but if he gathered support of several people that were incarcerated the lawsuit would have been valid. Basically the inmates needed to be the ones that filed the lawsuit, because they have the ability to file for themselves. This is at the very end of what is posted "It is the inmates, not McCollum, who have standing to pursue the primary claim he articulated, namely, that the chaplaincy policy 'has the pernicious effect of depriving inmates of other religious accommodations . . . that are afforded to ... inmates [of the five faiths].'"
McCollum also failed to meet the criteria for taxpayer standing, the panel found, as he "does not challenge the expenditure of government funds to provide paid chaplaincies nor even the existence of denomination-specific paid chaplaincies-he challenges only the current allocation of chaplaincies among religious denominations and the procedure for determining such allocations."

Basically he tried to file as if he were an inmate and his first amendment rights were violated and they weren't, instead the inmates rights were. Had he filed a discrimination law suit saying that the state was paying those five religions but refused to put other religions on a payroll then he would have won his case. It is actually really unusual that they tell you exactly what you need to do to win your law suit but in this case not only has the court system outed its self but they have basically said dont sue once but rather sue twice, once from the inmate side and once from the taxpayer side.

Blessed Be

Rob
Yes, exactly. What I get from this case is not that the case ruling was unfair, but that the particular claim and how it was filed was wrong from the start. So the courts aren't doing any sort of bullying or discrimination here. More so than supporting Patrick McCullom, I say the Wiccan community should focus their support on the inmates. McCollum's case won't be as strong without the inmates' case being won first.
and I agree he has no standing .
No he has standing and a very good one just not for the case he brought before the courts. The case he NEEDED to bring was the case that he as a Wiccan "Chaplain" was denied being paid by the state, basically the state said his religion wasnt as important as the others that are being paid. The law suit he FILED was on behalf of the inmates but according to California law the inmates have to file themselves. The Federal Court said Patrick McCullum does not have the right to file a law suit on behalf of the prisoners.

If you read what I wrote in my original statement at the end, I say the Federal courts state the prisoners need to file for their religious freedom AND he needs to file challenging why those five are being paid but no one else.
Ignore the exaggerated headline and read the actual judgement. Religious rights are not being denied, the point is that the effected persons have not actually requested a chaplain of their religion. Patrick cannot file since it is not about his rights, Patrick wanted to be hired for a non-existent job, the job does not exist because not enough Wiccan prisoners exist on paper to justify the expenditure. Volunteer chaplains serve in California prisons almost daily. The filing claimed 598 effected Wiccans, but looking at the laundry list of trads you see that is actually several flavors of PAGAN not Wiccan, and only 2 actual Wiccans even filed anything.
When actual self-identified Wiccan prisoners requested chaplaincy the volunteers were let in, when 598 actual Wiccan prisoners come forward their will be a paid part-time Wicca chaplain but it wont be Patrick.
Im in the UK and we have Pagan 'chaplains' in our prisons

RSS

 


Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2014   Created by Witch School.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service