Religious objection to subpoena

Volokh, Eugene VOLOKH at mail.law.ucla.edu
Tue Feb 22 21:08:37 PST 2000


        A member of a Buddhist religious order is spending a year in a
meditation program; she claims "that the rules of [the order] require that
she not travel or have contact with the outside world during that period"
and even that she "is not allowed to speak during this . . . period."
Should this give her the right to refuse a subpoena in a federal
prosecution?

        The court in United States v. Hsia, 2000 WL 195066 (D.D.C. Jan. 24),
managed to avoid this question, at least for now, because it concluded that
there wasn't enough admissible evidence that the religious commands were
indeed as the claimant's lawyers claimed they were.  Still, it seems an
interesting question, and one that may recur at a contempt hearing, where
the court said it "will hear testimony with respect to the burdens on free
exercise."
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