Arkansas prisons limit the length of inmates’ beards to a quarter inch. One of those inmates, a Muslim whose faith requires a full beard, tried to compromise by only growing his beard to a half inch but that was still too long for the warden. Contraband might be concealed in the half-inch beard, or the inmate could change his appearance to evade detection by shaving the beard.
None of those arguments were even considered plausible by the justices when the case, Holt v. Hobbs, was argued today. Justice Alito suggested using a comb on the beard “to see if a SIM card – or a revolver – falls out.” And Scalia asked why not take a photo of the inmate before he grows the beard?
“You’re really just making your case too easy”, the chief justice told petitioner’s lawyer, Douglas Laycock pictured above.
Arkansas Deputy Attorney General David A. Curran didn’t have much to show why the courts should defer to the bureau of prisons.
All bets are that the Court votes 9-0; not even close to a close shave.