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Appeals court: Jewish inmate can sue for kosher meals

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(JTA) — A federal appeals court has ruled that a Jewish inmate in Florida can sue the state Department of Corrections for kosher meals.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 14 said that inmate Bruce Rich can sue for kosher meals, after they were eliminated as part of cost cutting measures.

In 2010, Rich filed a lawsuit alleging that the denial of a kosher diet violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, because it requires Rich to choose between his religious practice and adequate nutrition. A federal district court dismissed his lawsuit in 2012, Rich filed an appeal with the assistance of the Becket Fund.

“Prisoners surrender many of their physical rights at the jailhouse door, but they do not surrender the fundamental right of conscience,” said Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, following the decision. “Bureaucratic stubbornness should not prevent a handful of prisoners from peacefully following the centuries-old commands of Judaism.”

The Florida Department of Corrections argued that canceling the kosher diet choice was necessary in order to control costs and maintain security.

At least thirty-five states and the federal government currently provide kosher diets, according to the Becket Fund.

The case has been remanded to federal district court.

Rich was found guilty in 1995 of shooting and killing his parents, Irwin and Blanche Rich, in their Florida home.

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