Part I of this Note describes the substance of prison grooming policies and provides a sampling of cases that have challenged these policies under the Equal Protection and Free Exercise Clauses. Part II explores three theories of discrimination that describe certain types of discriminatory conduct that could be prohibited by the Equal Protection and Free Exercise Clauses. These theories inform the definition of "equal protection of the laws" and impact the analysis of equal protection challenges to prison grooming policies. Part III explores the "religious exemptions" doctrine and explains how courts have interpreted the protections offered to religious groups by the Free Exercise Clause. This Part also explores the ways in which the development of the Free Exercise Clause has mirrored the development of the Equal Protection Clause and argues that these similarities justify a similar analysis of challenges to prison grooming policies brought under either theory. Part IV analyzes prison grooming policies by interpreting the constitutional provisions to prohibit oppressive discriminatory conduct directed at minority group members. Part V concludes this Note by arguing that adoption of an anti-oppression theory of discrimination in the analysis of Free Exercise and Equal Protection claims requires courts to strike down prison grooming policies.
Mara R. Schneider,
Splitting Hairs: Why Courts Uphold Prison Grooming Policies and Why They Should Not,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol9/iss2/6