Are religious prisoners entitled to dietary accommodations consistent with their religious beliefs? The current answer for this question derives from two 1987 cases, Turner v. Safley and O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, in which the U.S. Supreme Court articulated a factor-driven balancing test. Under this test, a prison regulation may burden an inmate's rights only if, on balance, the regulation reasonably serves a penological interest. However, the application of the Turner test often leads to conflicting results in the lower courts. The conflicting legal decisions stem from ambiguities in the concept of "reasonableness." In this Comment, I argue that the solution lies in portions of the Bill of Rights beyond the Free Exercise Clause. The Equal Protection Clause, the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, and the Establishment Clause can inform the Turner analysis under the Free Exercise Clause or even serve as separate bases for a religious dietary accommodation claim. This multirights approach requires judges to heed the Constitution as a whole when conducting an analysis of one of its provisions, and ultimately moves the "standard of review" analysis beyond debates regarding the levels of scrutiny.
Benjamin Pi-wei Liu, Comment, A Prisoner's Right to Religious Diet Beyond the Free Exercise Clause, 51 UCLA L. Rev. 1151 (2004).