United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
ORDER ADOPTING, IN PART, THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WILLIAM STAFFORD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is the magistrate judge's second report and
recommendation (doc. 61) docketed March 1, 2018. The
magistrate judge recommends that Defendant's motion for
summary judgment (doc. 47) be granted in part and denied in
part. Specifically, the magistrate judge
recommends that Defendant's motion be granted as to
Plaintiff's First Amendment claims but otherwise denied.
Defendant has filed objections (doc. 62) to the report and
recommendation. Plaintiff has filed no objections.
first argues that the magistrate judge incorrectly determined
that Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies.
Defendant contends that, as part of the exhaustion process,
Plaintiff was required to file-and failed to file-a petition
to initiate rulemaking, even though such a petition is not
included as part of the prison's administrative procedure
process. The magistrate judge-and this judge-rejected this
same contention when raised by Defendant in an earlier-filed
motion to dismiss. Both the magistrate judge-and this
judge-reject that same contention now. Defendant's
objections regarding the magistrate judge's
failure-to-exhaust determination are accordingly overruled.
next argues that the magistrate judge erred in recommending
denial of Defendant's summary judgment motion as to
Plaintiff's claims under the Religious and Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 1993 (“RLUIPA”).
Plaintiff challenges two prison rules under the RLUIPA: (1)
the grooming rule, which limits inmate's beards to
one-half inch; and (2) the strip search rule, to the extent
it prohibits Plaintiff from covering his “awrah”
(area between navel and knees) after a strip search is
conducted. The magistrate judge recommends denial of
Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to
Plaintiff's RLUIPA claims because-the magistrate judge
says-Defendant failed to meet her burdens in responding to
such claims. Those burdens were explained by the Supreme
Court in Holt v. Hobbs, 135 U.S. 853 (2017).
Holt, the Supreme Court wrote:
RLUIPA . . . requires the Government to demonstrate that the
compelling interest test is satisfied through application of
the challenged law ‘to the person'-the particular
claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being
substantially burdened. RLUIPA requires us to scrutinize the
asserted harm of granting specific exemptions to particular
religious claimants and to look to the marginal interest in
enforcing the challenged government action in that particular
Id. at 863 (internal quotation marks and alterations
omitted). The Court went on to explain that RLUIPA requires
the government “not merely to explain why it denied the
exemption but to prove that denying the exemption is the
least restrictive means of furthering a compelling
governmental interest.” Id. The Court further
The least-restrictive-means standard is exceptionally
demanding, and it requires the government to show that it
lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without
imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by
the objecting party. Moreover, if a less restrictive means is
available for the Government to achieve its goals, the
Government must use it.
Id. (internal quotation marks, citations, and
alterations omitted). See also Smith v. Owens, 848
F.3d 975, 979-80 (11th Cir. 2017). Here, as correctly
determined by the magistrate judge, Defendant simply failed
to do what Holt requires.
objections to the report and recommendation, in what is
tantamount to an admission that she failed to do what
Holt requires, Defendant includes a request-buried
in two footnotes-that she now be given an opportunity to file
a renewed motion for summary judgment “with information
tailored more towards Plaintiff's claim or an evidentiary
hearing with the opportunity to present testimony concerning
the security risks of [Plaintiff's] particular
concern[s].” Doc. 62, p. 19 nn. 7 & 8. While this
court does not routinely grant parties a second “bite
at the apple, ” the magistrate judge-upon return of the
case to his chambers-is free to consider, in his discretion,
Defendant's tardy request.
time, having reviewed the record in light of Defendant's
objections, the court has determined that the magistrate
judge's report and recommendation is due to be adopted as
it relates to Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
it is ORDERED:
1. The magistrate judge's second report and
recommendation (doc. 61) is ADOPTED IN PART and incorporated
by reference into this order.
2. Defendant's motion (doc. 47) for summary judgment is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The motion is granted as
to Plaintiff's First Amendment claims and denied ...