Shaw v. Murphy
|Shaw v. Murphy|
|Argued January 16, 2001
Decided April 18, 2001
|Full case name||Robert Shaw, et al. v. Kevin Murphy|
|Citations||532 U.S. 223 (more)
121 S. Ct. 1475; 149 L. Ed. 2d 420; 2001 U.S. LEXIS 3205; 69 U.S.L.W. 4231; 2001 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3051; 2001 Daily Journal DAR 3755; 2001 Colo. J. C.A.R. 1984; 14 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 174
|Prior history||The district court denied declaratory and injunctive relief for the petitioner. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.|
|There is no First Amendment right for a prisoner to provide legal assistance to a fellow prisoner.|
|Majority||Thomas, joined by unanimous|
|U.S. Const. amend. I|
While incarcerated, Murphy learned that a fellow prisoner was charged with assaulting a correctional officer. Murphy authored a letter to the accused prisoner offering legal assistance in his defense. The letter was intercepted pursuant to prison regulations and was reviewed, at which point Murphy was sanctioned for violating the prison's rule against interference in due process hearing. Murphy sought declaratory and injunctive relief from the district court, which applied the Supreme Court precedent from Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 and ruled against the petitioner. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision.
Opinion of the Court
Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Clarence Thomas found that the district court had correctly applied the Turner standard, which upheld regulatory impingements on the constitutional rights of prisoners where the regulation is reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest. Under Turner, prisoner communication may be monitored and regulated, and the content of the communication (i.e., the legal advice) makes no difference in the assessment of the legality of the regulation.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her concurrence that the respondent argued on appeal before the Ninth Circuit that the regulation under which he was charged was vague and overbroad. Because the Ninth Circuit did not rule on the merits of that argument, Ginsburg argued that the remand for which the Court provided should not impede Murphy's ability to raise the issue of vagueness and overbreadth again.