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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one, and denies rehearing in legislative prayer case [Updated]

In Hammer v. Ashcroft (SD Ind., Judge Tinder), a 16-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:
David Hammer, a federal prisoner on death row, sued various Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) officials alleging that they violated his First Amendment and equal protection rights by implementing and enforcing a policy that prevents him from giving face-to-face interviews with the media and from talking with the media about other inmates. The current defendants— the former Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft; a former BOP Director, Kathleen Hawk- Sawyer; and former wardens of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, Harley Lappin and Keith Olson—moved for summary judgment, arguing that the challenged policy is rationally related to legitimate penological interests. The district court granted the defendants’ motion, and Hammer appeals. Because we conclude that Hammer raised a genuine issue of fact as to whether the defendants’ proffered justification for the policy banning face-to-face interviews is pretextual, we reverse and remand.
For more on this ruling, see this entry by Howard Bashman of How Appealing, who notes: "Timothy McVeigh's interview with the CBS News program "60 Minutes" appears to have given rise to the challenged policy." And see this entry by Robert Loblaw of Decision of the Day, titled "John Ashcroft To Stand Trial for Death Row Media Policy?."

In the Indiana legislative prayer case, Hinrichs, Anthony, et al v. Speaker House Rep IN, the 7th Circuit on Jan. 14, 2008, issued the following order:

ORDER: Appellee Anthony Hinrichs in 05-4604, Appellee Henry Gerner in 05-4604, Appellee Lynette Herold in 05-4604, Appellee Francis W. Quigley in 05-4604, Appellee Anthony Hinrichs in 05-4781, Appellee Henry Gerner in 05-4781, Appellee Lynette Herold in 05-4781, Appellee Francis W. Quigley in 05-4781 Petition for Rehearing and Petition for Rehearing Enbanc is DENIED. * Judges Rovner, Wood, Evans and Williams voted to grant the Petition for Rehearing En Banc. Judges Flaum and Tinder took no part in the consideration or decision of the Petition for Rehearing En Banc. [05-4604, 05-4781] [2160859-1] (hard) [05-4604 05-4781]
The Indianapolis Star posted this report at 4:07 PM. Eyewitness News 13 this evening had this story. A quote:
House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Tuesday's ruling meant the House could resume its normal practice, which in the past has sometimes included mention of Jesus Christ. But ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk said that wasn't true because the ruling was based on the litigants' standing, not on the merits of the case. "I would hope that the House doesn't somehow think that this is a validation of the prayer practices," Falk said. Falk said the ACLU likely would file a new lawsuit, with plaintiffs who come into contact with the prayers and who therefore might have legal standing, if the former practices resume.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 15, 2008 11:58 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions