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McCabe v. Arave: A Religiously Based Challenge to Legitimate Penalogical Regulations

NCJ Number
New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement Volume: 13 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1987) Pages: 297-319
R E Clayton
Date Published
23 pages
This article discusses and assesses the U.S. District Court's opinion in McCabe v. Arave (Idaho, 1986), in which inmate members of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian (CJCC)/Aryan Nations alleged violations of their first amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
The CJCC/Aryan Nations teaches that white Anglo-Saxons (Aryans) are the direct descendants of Adam and Eve through the 12 tribes of Israel. Blacks and Jews are considered to be from Satanic seed, and all other nonwhite persons are viewed as 'mongrelizations' of various kinds. The plaintiffs in McCabe were prevented from holding worship services and classes in the prison. In considering claims of the violation of religious freedom, Federal courts have traditionally determined whether the beliefs at issue are sincerely held by the persons alleging first amendment violations and whether the beliefs are religious in nature. The court followed the standard in Jones v. Bradley (1979), which held that prison authorities have a legitimate interest in placing appropriate restrictions on chapel use so long as they are reasonable to maintain order and security. Given the provocative nature of the plaintiffs' beliefs, the court ruled that the prison authorities were justified in restricting the use of prison facilities for the promulgation of such beliefs. The court was correct in giving priority to prison security interests over religious-freedom protections for a group whose beliefs threaten prison peace and security. 155 footnotes.