Like many Native Americans, David Priest believes that eagle feathers are sacred and central to his faith. Recognizing the centrality of eagle feathers to the spiritual practices of some Native Americans, the United States Department of the Interior will provide them with 20 such feathers—but only once during one’s life. Mr. Priest, a prisoner in Washington State, received the one-time allotment of eagle feathers from the Department of the Interior. Prison officials destroyed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to possess these sacred objects by confiscating them. The trial court threw out the case, finding no “substantial burden” on Mr. Priest’s religious exercise.
The MacArthur Justice Center is appealing to the Ninth Circuit to stand up for Mr. Priest’s right to practice his religion with sacred items that are key to his faith.