Religious Exercise Of Institutionalized Persons -- Summary

The Special Litigation Section enforces the provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that protects the religious exercise of persons confined to institutions covered by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. This provision prohibits a state or local government from substantially burdening the religious exercise of such an institutionalized person, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means available to further that interest. The Department of Justice is authorized to investigate alleged violations of RLUIPA and to file civil lawsuits seeking injunctive or declaratory relief. In addition, RLUIPA enables private individuals to seek judicial remedies for violations of the statute. RLUIPA applies to cases in which the alleged substantial burden on religious exercise occurs in a program receiving federal financial assistance or affects interstate commerce.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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