United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING ACTION FOR FAILURE
TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeks leave to proceed
in forma pauperis.
Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court
directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and
forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee
as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).
Screening Requirement and Standards
courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in
which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or
dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or
"seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).
se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading
requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) "requires a complaint to include
a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the
"short and plaint statement" requirements of Rule
8, its allegations must also include the specificity required
by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679 (2009).
avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must
contain more than "naked assertions, " "labels
and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555-557. In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements do not suffice." Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678.
a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have
facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
"A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon
which relief can be granted, the court must accept the
allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
(2007), and construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to §
1915A reveals that it must be dismissed for failure to state
a claim. Plaintiff alleges that Title 15 of the California
Code of Regulations, section 3177(b)(2), which prohibits
conjugal visits for inmates serving a life sentence, violates
his rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act because he is serving a
life sentence and his religion requires that his marriage be
Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment provides,
"Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free
exercise" of religion. U.S. CONST., amend. I. An
inmate's right to exercise religious practices, however,
"may be curtailed in order to achieve legitimate
correctional goals or to maintain prison security."
McElyea v. Babbitt, 833 F.2d 196, 197 (9th Cir.
1987) (per curiam). Generally applicable laws that
incidentally burden a religious practice do not violate the
Free Exercise Clause. Employment Division v. Smith,
494 U.S. 872, 878 (1990); Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544
U.S. 709, 714 (2005). "Because section 3177 does not
prohibit conjugal visitation solely [on the basis of
religion], but [applies to] all life inmates regardless of
religion, it does not violate the Free Exercise Clause."
Washington v. Cate, No. 1:11-cv-00264 GSA PC, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12402, at *4-5 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2014).
Plaintiff's First Amendment claim therefore fails.
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000
("RLUIPA") provides that "no [state or local]
government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious
exercise of a person residing in or confined to an
institution, " unless the government shows that the
burden furthers "a compelling government interest"
by "the least restrictive means." 42 U.S.C. §
2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2). "Religious exercise" includes
"any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by,
or central to, a system of religious belief."
Id. § 2000cc-5(7)(A). A "substantial
burden" is one that imposes a significantly great
restriction or onus on religious exercise. San Jose
Christian College v. City of Morgan Hill, 360 F.3d 1024,
1034-35 (9th Cir. 2004).
court previously considered and rejected an inmate's
claim that the denial of conjugal visits violates RLUIPA,
finding that the right to marry, like many other rights, is
subject to substantial restrictions as a result of
incarceration and that although the right to marriage is
constitutionally protected for inmates, the right to marital
privacy and conjugal visits while incarcerated is not.
Shields v. Foston, No. 2:11-cv-0015 JAM ...