University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Qandah v. Lombardi PC-MO-0012
Docket / Court 2:12-cv-4213 ( W.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On August 8, 2012, two Missouri prisoners filed this class-action lawsuit under § 1983 against the Missouri Department of Corrections. The prisoners, represented by the ACLU, asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri for declaratory relief that a state constitutional ... read more >
On August 8, 2012, two Missouri prisoners filed this class-action lawsuit under § 1983 against the Missouri Department of Corrections. The prisoners, represented by the ACLU, asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri for declaratory relief that a state constitutional amendment, voted on by the public on August 7, 2012, was unconstitutional and for injunctive relief against the enforcement or implementation of that amendment. Under Missouri's constitution, freedom of religion, the plaintiffs explained, had long been broader than under the federal First Amendment. Amendment 2 would strengthen religious rights still further -- except for prisoners. For prisoners, Amendment 2 shrank religious rights, providing that the Missouri freedom-of-religion 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 prisoners claimed that the voter-approved amendment to the Missouri Constitution would, if enforced, deprive prisoners of the additional protections of religious liberty guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution (the prisoners claimed Missouri's Constitution was more protective of an individual's right to religious liberty and expression than federal law). essentially sought to limit Missouri prisoners' religious liberty to that protected by federal law, while providing even greater protection to non-prisoner Missouri citizens. The prisoners claimed this violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. They sought to define a class of all current and future prisoners in the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections.

On September 10, 2012, the state moved to dismiss the case. On February 25, 2013, the Court (Judge Howard F. Sachs) agreed with the state that the prisoners had not identified any specific endangered exercise of religious liberty, and thus, the case was a "moot dispute over abstract, hypothetical concepts, unripe for judicial resolution." 2013 WL 684189. In dismissing the prisoners' claim, Judge Sachs said that the prisoners did not offer any reason or cite any cases to support a claim that the Missouri Constitution, prior to Amendment 2, provided prisoners any greater protection of religious liberty than federal law. Thus, there was no change in the law for prisoners, and absent a concrete injury, or even a hypothetical situation where religious liberty would be altered by the new amendment, the court had no controversy before it.

The docket shows no sign of an appeal, so the opinion is presumably final.

Alex Wharton - 01/02/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Missouri
Plaintiff Description Two Missouri prisoners seeking class certification of all present and future Missouri prisoners
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:12−cv−04213 (W.D. Mo.) 02/25/2013
PC-MO-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Prospective Relief 08/08/2012
PC-MO-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order 02/25/2013 (2013 WL 684189) (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Sachs, Howard Frederic (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0012-0002 | PC-MO-0012-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Doty, Grant R. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0012-0001 | PC-MO-0012-9000
Rothert, Anthony E. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0012-0001 | PC-MO-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Trachtenberg, Joanna L.W. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0012-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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