Title: U.S. Reports: Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon, et al. v. Smith et al., U.S. (). Contributor Names: Scalia. Smith, U.S. (), a landmark in religious freedom jurisprudence. In Religious Freedom and Indian Rights: The Case of Oregon v. Smith, Carolyn N. Oregon Department of Human Resources. Docket no. Decided by. Rehnquist Court. Lower court. Oregon Supreme Court. Citation. US ( ).
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In weighing respondents’ clear interest in the free exercise of their religion against Oregon’s asserted interest k.s.872 enforcing its drug laws, it is important to articulate in precise terms the state interest involved.
Employment Division v. Smith – Wikipedia
United States, U. See also United States v. Georgia Cohen v. California Dennis v. The “compelling government interest” requirement seems benign, because it is familiar from other fields. The First Amendment, however, does not distinguish between laws that are generally applicable and laws that target particular religious practices.
Oregon has never sought to prosecute respondents, and does not claim that it has made significant enforcement efforts against other religious users of peyote. Respondents also note that the sacramental use of peyote is central to the tenets of the Native American Church, h.s.872 I agree with the Court, ante at U. The lack of a “hybrid right” was fatal to the claim of the terminated employees.
Blackmun distinguished religious use from pure recreational use and pointed out that the federal government allowed peyote’s religious use. To reach this sweeping result, however, the Court must not only give a strained reading of the First Amendment but must also disregard our consistent application of free exercise doctrine to cases involving generally applicable regulations that burden religious conduct.
Felton Mitchell v. These Justices joined O’Connor in finding that strict scrutiny should apply to evaluating the state law and that a compelling interest needed to u.w.872 identified.
To make an individual’s obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State’s interest is “compelling” — permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, “to become a law unto himself,” Reynolds v. Almost half u.z.872 States, and the Federal Government, have maintained an exemption for religious peyote use for many years, and apparently have not found themselves overwhelmed by claims to other religious exemptions.
We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. FEC McComish h.s.872. Such a decision would then reopen the question whether a State may nevertheless deny unemployment compensation benefits to claimants who are discharged for engaging in such conduct.
Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v Smith
Also, the availability of peyote for religious use, even if Oregon were to allow an exemption from its criminal laws, would still be strictly controlled by federal regulations, see 21 U. Post at U. We rejected the claim that an exemption was constitutionally required. United States Jaycees, U. One hopes that the Court is aware of the consequences, and that its result 944 not a product of overreaction to the serious problems the country’s drug crisis has generated.
The State u.d.872 an interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens from the dangers of unlawful drugs.
Goguen Texas v. This distorted view of our precedents leads the majority to conclude that strict scrutiny of a state law burdening the free exercise of religion is a “luxury” that a well-ordered society cannot afford, and that the repression of minority religions is an “unavoidable consequence of democratic government. Board of Education Walz v. Beck Keller v. It is therefore not surprising that a number of States have made an exception to their drug laws for sacramental peyote use.
New Hampshire, U. To make an individual’s obligation uu.s.872 obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State’s interest is “compelling”—permitting him, by virtue of his u.a.872, “to become a law unto himself,”—contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.
Finally, although I agree with Justice O’CONNOR that courts should refrain from delving into questions of whether, as a matter of religious doctrine, a particular practice is “central” to the religion, ante atI do not think this means that the courts must turn a blind eye to the u.z.872 impact of a State’s restrictions on the adherents of a minority religion. New Jersey Cantwell v.
Nor is this difficulty avoided by Justice BLACKMUN’s assertion that although courts should refrain from delving into questions of whether, as a matter of religious doctrine, a particular practice is “central” to the religion, I do not think this means that the courts must turn a blind eye to the severe impact of a State’s restrictions on the adherents of a minority religion. Until today, I thought this was a settled and inviolate principle of this Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence.
The Court today, however, denies u.d.872 even the opportunity to make that argument, concluding that “the sounder approach, and the approach in accord with the vast majority of our precedents, is to hold the [compelling interest] test inapplicable to” challenges to general criminal prohibitions.
But using it as the standard that must be met before the government may accord different treatment on the basis of race, see, e. The State’s apprehension of a flood of other religious claims is purely speculative.
As she points out, “the critical question in this case is whether exempting respondents from the State’s general criminal prohibition ‘will unduly interfere with fulfillment of the governmental interest. Oregon law prohibits the knowing or intentional possession of a “controlled substance” unless the substance has been prescribed by a medical practitioner. One Book Called Ulysses S.
However, possession of the drug was illegal in Oregon, and the law did not provide for any exceptions related to religious use. Myers Rankin v. The state appealed to the U. Failure to reduce the competing interests to the same plane of generality tends to distort the weighing process in the State’s favor.
Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)
A There is no dispute that Oregon’s criminal prohibition of peyote places a severe burden on the ability of respondents to freely exercise their religion. But the “exercise of religion” often involves not only belief and profession but the performance of or abstention from physical acts: Williams Federal Communications Commission v.
O’Brien Cohen v. The .us.872 held that the First Amendment’s protection of the “free exercise” of religion does not allow a person to use a religious motivation as a reason not to obey such generally applicable laws. U.w.872, Navajo Peyote Use: