Skip to Main Content

Eighth Circuit Affirms Important Victory for Religious Freedom Secured by Johnson Janklow Abdallah

Dec 1, 14

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled in favor of its clients in an important case involving religious freedom for Native Americans.

The Eighth Circuit’s decision affirmed an earlier injunction entered by Judge Karen E. Schreier that lifted a complete ban on the ceremonial use of tobacco in religious ceremonies by Native American inmates in South Dakota correctional facilities.  The injunction was entered by Judge Schreier following a court trial pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.  Judge Schreier appointed Johnson Abdallah attorneys to represent the interests of the Native American Council of Tribes in the action.

“This is an important victory for religious freedom,” said Pamela Bollweg, lead counsel for Johnson Abdallah in the litigation.  “As the Court of Appeals recognized, the ceremonial use of tobacco has been central to the Lakota people and many other Native American tribes for thousands of years.”

Ron Parsons, head of Johnson Janklow Abdallah’s appellate department, argued the case before the Eighth Circuit.

Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber, 750 F.3d 742 (8th Cir. 2014).

It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law