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That Didn't Take Long: ACLU Files Suit Against Missouri Amendment E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Thursday, 09 August 2012

Just hours after Missouri voters approved a troubling constitutional amendment on Tuesday, the state's ACLU office filed suit in federal court challenging a very specific element of the broad measure on behalf of prisoners. The complaint alleges that the change in the Missouri Constitution lessens the religious liberty of the state's prisoners without justification. Prior to the change, Missourians (like those in many states) enjoyed a greater degree of religious freedom than that guaranteed by the US Constitution. The measure passed earlier this week however specifies that the religious liberty section "shall not be construed to expand the rights of prisoners in state or local custody beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States." 

The ACLU argues that statement amounts to a lessening of freedom for one group only, in violation of the Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection under the law. That provision, the complaint claims, can be removed without impacting any other section of Article I, Section 5 of the Missouri Constitution. 

Notably, this lawsuit challenges only that element affecting prisoner's rights. Other litigation is sure to come regarding this Amendment, especially over conflicts it creates in schools (allowing students to opt-out of assignments on religious grounds). See Religion Clause for a run-down of the content of the Amendment.

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