United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MORRIS A. JACKMON, Plaintiff,
NJ DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendant.
Kevin McNulty United States District Judge.
Morris Jackmon, a state prisoner at East Jersey State Prison,
filed a civil rights complaint against the New Jersey
Department of Corrections ("Department") alleging
violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc
et seq. (DE 1-1). Currently pending before this
Court is Jackmon's motion for a temporary restraining
order ("TRO") or preliminary injunction. (DE 31).
For the following reasons, Jackmon's motion is
The Complaint and the Motion to Dismiss
October 2017, Jackmon filed a complaint in New Jersey state
court, alleging violations under RLUIPA and seeking
injunctive relief against the Department. On January 5, 2018,
the Department filed a notice of removal to the United States
District Court. (DE 1).
complaint, Jackmon alleges that he is a sincere member of the
Nation of Gods and Earths ("Nation"). (DE 1-1 at
2.) As a member of the Nation, Jackmon states that he is
compelled to practice various religious activities,
(a) teaching others about the knowledge of who God is, (b)
study the Supreme Mathematics, Supreme Alphabets, 120
Degrees, Universal Flag, monthly National Statements, and
"The Five Percenter" newspaper periodicals, (c)
observe holy days, which include the anniversaries of the
birth and death of our founder, Clarence 13X Smith, also
known as Father Allah, and the birthdays of Elijah Muhammad
and Fard Muhammad, (d) conduct Civilization Classes, in which
senior members educate newer members about the lessons and
how they can be applied, and (e) gather monthly for
"Parliaments" and "Rallies", during which
members make collective decisions and help one another learn
(Id. at 3-4).
explains that in 1998 the Department enacted a policy that
designated the Nation as a Security Threat Group ("STG).
(Id. at 5). According to Jackmon, activities of all
designated STGs are restricted:
These activities include but are not limited to: Possession
of STG literature such as, lessons, membership lists, manuals
and artwork; Possession of STG paraphernalia such as beads,
artwork, medallions and clothing articles; Observation by
staff of known STG hand-signs and/or signals; Participation
in STG related assaults, disturbances, meetings, gatherings,
incidents and events; Sending or receiving STG related
correspondence; Recruiting of other inmates to join an STG.
(Id. at 4).
alleges that because of this designation he is unable to
exercise his religious beliefs and that the Department has
substantially burdened his religious exercise. [Id.
at 5). Jackmon seeks injunctive relief requiring the
Department to remove the Nation from the list of STGs and to
permit him and others to engage in its religious practice.
(Id. at 6).
January 25, 2018, the Department filed a motion to dismiss
the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Jackmon
failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (DE
3). I denied that motion on July 20, 2018 (DE 15), finding
"that Jackmon ha[d] pled facts sufficient to show that
the Department's policy substantially burdens his
sincerely held religious beliefs," (id. at 6),
and that "his burden [was] only to plead sufficient
factual matter to state a claim for relief that is plausible
on its face," (id. at 7).
The Amended Complaint and the Temporary Restraining
November 5, 2018, Jackmon moved to amend his complaint. (DE
27). The Court granted this motion on March 21, 2019, giving
Jackmon ten days to file the amended complaint. (DE 34).
Jackmon has not yet filed an amended complaint. However, he
filed a proposed amended complaint alongside the
November 5, 2018 motion. (DE 27-2).
proposed amended complaint, Jackmon again alleges that the
Department's designation of the Nation as an STG violates
RLUIPA. (Id. at 1-8). He reiterates his request that
this Court require die Department to remove the STG stigma
from the Nation and to "permit plaintiff and other
Nation adherents to practice, without impunity, the
[Nation's] theological activities." (Id.
March 8, 2019 Jackmon moved for a TRO. (DE 31). He alleges
the following additional facts and ...