Webber, et al., v. Crabtree, et al.

Smoking inmates filed a 28 U.S.C. sec. 1331 claim for equitable relief from a smoking ban at the Federal Prison Camp in Sheridan, Oregon.  The District Court granted summary judgment for the prison officials.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the inmates’ equal protection claim, noting that they “are not members of a suspect class” and that they “also failed to show that smoking is a fundamental right.”  The court of appeals also found that the district court had not erred “by finding that the smoking ban is rationally related” to the legitimate governmental objective of protecting inmates and staff from secondhand tobacco smoke.  The inmates argued that the prison regulations do not grant the warden discretion to ban all smoking, including outdoors; the court of appeals agreed that 28 C.F.R. sec. 551.160 provides that the warden shall identify “smoking areas” and noted that “we conclude that the warden’s smoking ban is inconsistent with regulation.”

1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 24888 (U.S.C.A. 9th Cir. 1998).