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Ongoing Lawsuits:

American Humanist Association and Benjamin Espinosa v. James Dzurenda, in his official capacity as Director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, et al.

In October 2016, the American Humanist Association commenced representation of an inmate in a suit against the Nevada Department of Corrections and a prison chaplain for violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment by denying privileges to humanist inmates that are accorded to theistic inmates.

In February 2018, the AHA filed its opening appellate brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its appeal of the U.S. District Court of Nevada’s dismissal of its case in December 2017. The AHA’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit argued that the decision flouts decades of binding precedent. In its reply brief, the AHA rebuts the various arguments presented in the department’s brief.


The oral arguments of AHA’s appeal in the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco took place on August 6, 2019. Just 16 days after oral argument, the three-judge panel (consisting of Reagan-appointed Diarmuid O’Scannlain, H.W. Bush-appointed Eugene Edward Siler, Jr. (from the Sixth Circuit), and Obama-appointed Jacqueline Nguyen) dismissed this case on August 22, 2019.  On September 5, 2019 we filed our petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc. 

Selected Case Documents:

District Court (Case No. 3:16-cv-00141):

Complaint (filed October 5, 2016)

Court Order for Dismissal (issued December 4, 2017)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Case No. 17-17522):

Appellants' Opening Brief (filed February 20, 2018)

Appellants' Reply Brief (filed August 8, 2018)
Appellants' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (filed July 15, 2019)

Appellants' Petition for Rehearing En Banc (filed September 5, 2019)

Press Releases:


Humanists Continue Fight for Equality in Nevada Prisons

AUGUST 6, 2019

Humanists Demand Equal Treatment for Nevada Prisoners before Ninth Circuit

AHA Senior Counsel concludes oral arguments before Appeals Court.

AUGUST 8, 2018

Godless Humanists Continue Fight for Equality in Federal Appeals Court

Today, American Humanist Association (AHA) attorneys filed their reply brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit...

FEBRUARY 20, 2018

Attorneys Appeal Nevada’s Discrimination Against Humanist Inmates

Nevada refuses to allow humanist inmates to study and discuss their shared convictions.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Humanists Demanding Equality for Humanist Prisoners

Nevada Department of Corrections refuses to allow humanist inmates to gather akin to religious ones.

OCTOBER 6, 2016

Give Nevada Humanist Inmates Equal Treatment, AHA Demands in Lawsuit

"All prisoners should be granted basic rights and human dignity," said Roy Speckhardt.


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