(WASHINGTON) — In a rare unanimous decision, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas rule that forbids Muslim prisoners from growing beards.
Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said it was “hard to take seriously” the concerns of officials that prisoners could hide contraband in their beards.
The case was brought by an attorney for Gregory Holt, who is serving a life term for domestic assault and burglary. Holt, who converted to Islam, was prohibited from growing a half-inch beard.
Over 40 states allow prison inmates to have beards and in most instances, longer than the one Holt wanted to grow.
Advocates of religious liberty hailed the ruling, which overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
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