Inmates Sue Over Solar Eclipse Lockdown, Citing Religious Rights

New York Prisoners Assert Constitutional Challenge Against Eclipse Viewing Ban.

In a surprising turn of events, inmates in New York state prisons are taking legal action against authorities for their planned lockdown during the upcoming solar eclipse. Six inmates from diverse religious backgrounds, including Christian, Muslim, Santerian, and atheist, are leading a class-action lawsuit, arguing that denying them the opportunity to witness the celestial event infringes upon their constitutional right to practice their faith.

The inmates, representing various religious beliefs, highlight the eclipse’s significance in their spiritual practices. For some, like Travis Hudson, a Protestant Baptist, observing the eclipse is a profound way to connect with their faith, citing religious references such as the Bible’s description of the sun going dark during Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Others, including Muslims and Santerians, also stress the eclipse’s importance in their religious rituals and prayers.

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) justified the lockdown as a safety measure, citing concerns for the prison population. However, the inmates argue that the decision disregards their religious freedom. The lawsuit demands that they be allowed to view the eclipse, with the inmates’ attorneys emphasizing the event’s religious significance across different faiths.

This legal battle underscores the intersection of religious rights and institutional policies, raising questions about how prison systems accommodate diverse spiritual practices, especially during unique astronomical events like a solar eclipse.