An Inmate Can Refuse To Be Strip-Searched By Someone Who Identifies As A Certain Gender

( )- According to a federal appeals court decision, a prisoner has the right, following his religious beliefs, to refuse to have his underwear checked by a woman, even if she poses as a man.

Rufus West was contacted by the female, who identifies as a man and works at the Green Bay Correctional Center in Wisconsin, to submit to a standard strip search after a visit with a visitor.

Because of his Muslim faith, West objected to being exposed in front of a woman.

When he refused to submit to the strip search and complained, the warden reprimanded him and said that the guard, Isaac Buhle, “is a male and is qualified to execute these duties.” If West continued to complain, the prison security director threatened him with “discipline.”

West filed a lawsuit, and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor. The prison’s arguments that a female search of a male body was necessary for security were accepted by a lower court, which had previously found that the strip search was not an unwarranted hardship on West’s faith.

The Supreme Court’s rulings in the Hobby Lobby and Holt, which both addressed what constitutes a substantial burden on religious expression, served as the appeals court’s direction, it was stated. According to the report, Hobby Lobby was forced to choose between paying “hefty fines” and going against its religious principles, which was an unfair hardship.

The courts ruled in the Holt case that a jail beard prohibition could not be upheld legally.

The judgment stated that the essential lesson from Holt and Hobby Lobby is that a jail adds some genuine negative penalty to an inmate’s exercise of religion, compelling him to choose between exercising his faith and incurring that bad consequence.

The prison had argued that it wasn’t a violation of West’s faith because it was uncertain when the subsequent cross-sex strip search would occur. The magistrate replied, “The argument from the prison can occasionally go beyond rejecting compromise and infer that West doesn’t understand what his religion demands. According to the prison, West shouldn’t care who conducts the strip search because the religious offense is bad whether or not the guard sees West’s naked body.

The court held that the inmate’s religious freedom trumped the female guard’s “right” to be treated like a man.