A U.S. federal appeal court ruled that a Jewish man incarcerated in Texas must receive kosher meals in prison in a case revolving around the 2000 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which forbids the government from restricting religious rights of institutionalized individuals.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that Max Moussazadeh, 35, is a practicing Orthodox Jew who keeps a kosher diet, and that the state of Texas infringed on his religious beliefs by denying his request for kosher meals.
Moussazadeh is serving a 75-year sentence for murder. He had sued the state of Texas in 2005 over the kosher meal issue, but prison officials claimed his commitment to such a diet was not sincere and cited his previous purchases of non-kosher food items. “I feel that I am going against my beliefs and that I will be punished by God for not practicing my religion correctly,” Moussazadeh wrote in his 2005 complaint, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Luke Goodrich—Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, an organization that helped represent Moussazadeh—called the latest court decision a major victory. “Even prisoners retain their human rights, and the state cannot sacrifice those rights on the altar of bureaucratic convenience,” he said.