Mayweathers v. Newland

Decision Date27 December 2002
Docket NumberNo. 01-16607.,No. 01-16505.,No. 01-17133.,01-16505.,01-16607.,01-17133.
Citation314 F.3d 1062
PartiesKarluk M. MAYWEATHERS; Dietrich J. Pennington; Jesus Jihad; Terrance Mathews; Aswad Jackson; Ansar Kees, Plaintiffs-Appellees, and United States of America, Intervenor, v. Anthony C. NEWLAND, individually and in his official capacity; Barry Smith, individually and in his official capacity; Cal A. Terhune; N. Bennett; M.E. Valdez, Defendants-Appellants. Karluk M. Mayweathers; Dietrich J. Pennington; Jesus Jihad; Terrance Mathews; Aswad Jackson; Ansar Kees, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Anthony C. Newland individually and in his official capacity; Barry Smith, individually and in his official capacity; Cal A. Terhune; N. Bennett; M.E. Valdez, Defendants-Appellants. Karluk M. Mayweathers; Dietrich J. Pennington; Jesus Jihad; Terrance Mathews; Aswad Jackson; Ansar Kees, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Cal A. Terhune; A.C. Newland; Barry Smith; Bonnie Garibay; N. Fry; M.E. Valdez; N. Bennett; F.X. Chavez, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Bill Lockyer, Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, CA, for the defendants-appellants.

Robert R. Anderson, Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, CA, for the defendants-appellants.

Paul Gifford, Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, CA, for the defendants-appellants.

Tami M. Warwick, Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, CA, for the defendants-appellants.

Susan D. Christian, Law Office of Stewart Katz, Sacramento, CA, for the plaintiffs-appellees.

Robert D. McCallum, Jr., Office of the Attorney General of the United States, Washington, DC, for the intervenor.

John K. Vincent, Office of the Attorney General of the United States, Washington, DC, for the intervenor.

Mark B. Stern, Office of the Attorney General of the United States, Washington, DC, for the intervenor.

Michael S. Raab, Office of the Attorney General of the United States, Washington, DC, for the intervenor.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California; Lawrence K. Karlton, Senior Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-96-01582-LKK(JFM).

Before SCHROEDER, Chief Judge; D.W. NELSON and RAWLINSON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

D.W. NELSON, Senior Circuit Judge.

California State prison officials ("California") bring a facial challenge to the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. (2000) ("RLUIPA"), on various grounds. Their appeal arises from a series of preliminary injunctions, issued pursuant to RLUIPA, which allow Muslim prisoners to attend Friday afternoon religious services.

The district court upheld the statute as a constitutional exercise of Congress's Spending Clause authority. We affirm.1

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

RLUIPA protects prisoners and other institutionalized people from government infringement on their practice of religion. Specifically, the statute prescribes that "[n]o government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise" of prisoners unless the government can demonstrate that the burden both serves a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of advancing that interest. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a) (2000).

A class of Muslim inmates imprisoned at Solano in California originally filed suit in 1996 against various officials of the California State prison system. They alleged that prison rules penalizing attendance at Friday afternoon religious services, called Jumu'ah, violated the First Amendment. They added a RLUIPA claim following its enactment in 2000.

California moved to dismiss the RLUIPA claim, arguing that the statute exceeded Congressional authority under the Spending Clause, the Commerce Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment. California also attacked the statute as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments, and the principle of separation of powers. The United States intervened to defend RLUIPA as constitutional.

In a series of separate but related rulings, the district court upheld the constitutionality of RLUIPA, denied California's motion to dismiss, and granted the prisoners various preliminary injunctions. These injunctions barred prison officials from punishing prisoners for attending Jumu'ah services and prohibited officials from withholding good time credits from inmates who participated in Jumu'ah while this case proceeds.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review the constitutionality of a statute de novo. Eunique v. Powell, 302 F.3d 971, 973 (9th Cir.2002).

III. The Spending Clause

The Spending Clause allows Congress to further its policy objectives by conditioning the receipt of federal funds on compliance with federal mandates. See South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203, 206, 107 S.Ct. 2793, 97 L.Ed.2d 171 (1987). This power is not limitless, however. A statute properly passed under the Spending Clause must meet certain requirements. First, the statute must be in pursuit of the general welfare. Id. at 207, 107 S.Ct. 2793. Second, any conditions on federal grants must be unambiguous, clearly communicating to states the consequences of their participation in the federally funded scheme. Id. Third, the Supreme Court has suggested that conditional federal grants "might be illegitimate if they are unrelated to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs." Id. (internal quotations and citation omitted) (emphasis added). Finally, other constitutional provisions may provide independent grounds for invalidating an otherwise proper exercise of Congress's Spending Clause authority. Id. at 208. RLUIPA meets all of these requirements, and the statute is a legitimate exercise of Congressional spending power.

A. Promoting the General Welfare

Congress possesses great leeway to determine which statutory aims advance the general welfare. The Supreme Court has made it clear that "[w]hen money is spent to promote the general welfare, the concept of welfare or the opposite is shaped by Congress...." Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619, 645, 57 S.Ct. 904, 81 L.Ed. 1307 (1937). The Court, in the leading case on Spending Clause authority, reaffirmed that federal courts must "defer substantially" to Congress in determining if a statute advances the general welfare. Dole, 483 U.S. at 207, 107 S.Ct. 2793. In fact, the Court seems doubtful that failure to advance the general welfare could ever provide adequate grounds for invalidating a federal statute. Id. at 207 n. 2, 107 S.Ct. 2793.

In any event, protecting religious worship in institutions from substantial and illegitimate burdens does promote the general welfare. The First Amendment, by prohibiting laws that proscribe the free exercise of religion, demonstrates the great value placed on protecting religious worship from impermissible government intrusion. By ensuring that governments do not act to burden the exercise of religion in institutions, RLUIPA is clearly in line with this positive constitutional value. Moreover, by fostering non-discrimination, RLUIPA follows a long tradition of federal legislation designed to guard against unfair bias and infringement on fundamental freedoms. See, e.g., Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (2002); Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (2002); Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 (2002). No sound reason exists to disturb Congress's finding that RLUIPA promotes the general welfare.

B. Unambiguous Condition

RLUIPA unequivocally states that it applies to any "program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance." 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(b)(1). A spending power statute, as unambiguous in its conditional language as RLUIPA, ensures that the statute's intention to impose a condition is expressed clearly. By its plain language, RLUIPA clearly communicates that any institution receiving federal funds must not substantially burden the exercise of religion absent a showing that the burden is the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest. The fact that the least restrictive means standard is perhaps unpredictable because it has resulted in different determinations in different courts does not weaken the express conditional language. In fact, the Supreme Court has held that conditions may be "largely indeterminate," so long as the statute "provid[es] clear notice to the States that they, by accepting funds under the Act, would indeed be obligated to comply with[the conditions]." Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U.S. 1, 24-25, 101 S.Ct. 1531, 67 L.Ed.2d 694 (1981). Congress is not required to list every factual instance in which a state will fail to comply with a condition. Such specificity would prove too onerous, and perhaps, impossible. Congress must, however, make the existence of the condition itself — in exchange for the receipt of federal funds — explicitly obvious. RLUIPA unambiguously creates this condition.

C. Relatedness to the Federal Interest in National Projects or Programs

The Supreme Court has suggested that federal grants conditioned on compliance with federal directives might be illegitimate if the conditions share no relationship to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs. Dole, 483 U.S. at 207, 107 S.Ct. 2793. This possible ground for invalidating a Spending Clause statute, which only suggests that the legislation might be illegitimate without demonstrating a nexus between the conditions and a specified national interest, is a far cry from imposing an exacting standard for relatedness. The nonconclusive language leaves open the possibility for attacking a spending power statute on this basis, but it does not mean that a statute is automatically illegitimate.

The Court has stated more recently that "[s]uch conditions must ... bear some relationship to the purpose of the federal spending." New York v. United States, ...

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