David Niose, 202-238-9088, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Laramie County, Wyoming, December 8, 2017)—The American Humanist Association (AHA) and a state prison inmate filed a complaint against the State of Wyoming and the Wyoming Department of Corrections on behalf of Humanist inmates who are being denied equal treatment.
The complaint asserts that the Department’s refusal to allow Humanist inmates, including plaintiff Jon Guy, to study and discuss their shared convictions in a group setting, while simultaneously authorizing study groups for many faith groups of similar and smaller sizes, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The complaint further asserts that the Department’s refusal to recognize Humanism as an approved “Faith Group,” while approving many other traditions including Buddhism and Wicca, violates these constitutional mandates as well.
“The Department’s disparate treatment of Humanist inmates violates decades of clearly established legal precedent,” said David Niose, Legal Director at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Supreme Court has long held that Secular Humanism, and even atheism, must be treated as equivalent to religion for First Amendment purposes.”
In 2015, the AHA scored a legal victory on behalf of Humanists in federal prisons in their case against the U.S. Department of Justice. After a federal judge refused to dismiss the case in 2014, declaring that Humanists must be accorded equal treatment, the Federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to recognize Humanism and accord its adherents the same benefits enjoyed by inmates of other faiths, including time and space for Humanist meetings.