Free Exercise Clause

free exercise of religionfree exerciseFree Exercise Clause of the First Amendmentfree-exercise of religion clauseright to free exercise of religioncompelling interestexercise of religionfree exercise clausesfree exercise of religious consciencefreedom of religion
The Free Exercise Clause accompanies the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.wikipedia
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First Amendment to the United States Constitution

First AmendmentFirstU.S. Const. amend. I
The Free Exercise Clause accompanies the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This case, which also revived Thomas Jefferson's statement regarding the "wall of separation" between church and state, introduced the position that although religious exercise is generally protected under the First Amendment, this does not prevent the government from passing neutral laws that incidentally impact certain religious practices.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Separation of church and state in the United States

separation of church and statewall of separationseparation between church and state
This case, which also revived Thomas Jefferson's statement regarding the "wall of separation" between church and state, introduced the position that although religious exercise is generally protected under the First Amendment, this does not prevent the government from passing neutral laws that incidentally impact certain religious practices.
"Separation of church and state" is paraphrased from Thomas Jefferson and used by others in expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Sherbert v. Verner

Sherbert TestSherbert'' Test
One example was Sherbert v. Verner, where the Court overturned the state Employment Security Commission's decision to deny unemployment benefits to a practicing member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who was forced out of a job after her employer adopted a 6-day work week, which would have required her to work on Saturdays against the dictates of her religion.
Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment required the government to demonstrate both a compelling interest and that the law in question was narrowly tailored before it denied unemployment compensation to someone who was fired because her job requirements substantially conflicted with her religion.

Cantwell v. Connecticut

In 1940, the Court considered Cantwell v. Connecticut; the plaintiff, a Jehovah's Witness, was charged with soliciting donations without a certificate from the Public Welfare Council.
Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940), is a decision by United States Supreme Court holding that the First Amendment's federal protection of religious free exercise incorporates via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and so applies to state governments too.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993RFRAFederal
This was followed by intense disapproval from Congress and the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 to attempt to restore the prior test.
This law reinstated the Sherbert Test, which was set forth by Sherbert v. Verner, and Wisconsin v. Yoder, mandating that strict scrutiny be used when determining whether the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing religious freedom, has been violated.

Warren Court

Warrendue process revolutionthe Warren majorities
Subsequently, the Warren Court adopted an expansive view of the clause, the "compelling interest" doctrine (whereby a state must show a compelling interest in restricting religion-related activities), but later decisions have reduced the scope of this interpretation. This interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause continued into the 1960s and the ascendancy of the Warren Court under chief justice Earl Warren.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

West Virginia State Board of Education vs. BarnetteWest Virginia Board of Education v. BarnetteWest Virginia v. Barnette
In 1943, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court essentially reversed its previous opinion.
In overruling Gobitis the Court primarily relied on the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment rather than the Free Exercise Clause.

Reynolds v. United States

judicial rulingsReynoldsReynolds v. U.S.
In 1878, the Supreme Court was first called to interpret the extent of the Free Exercise Clause in Reynolds v. United States, as related to the prosecution of polygamy under federal law.

Wisconsin v. Yoder

This test was used through the years of the Burger Court, including particularly in the landmark case of Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972).
The Wisconsin Supreme Court "sustained respondents' claim that application of the compulsory school-attendance law to them violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer

Trinity Lutheran v. Comer
In 2017, the Court applied this doctrine in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, holding that there must be a compelling state interest for express discrimination based on religious status in government funding schemes.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U.S. ___ (2017), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a Missouri program that denied a grant to a religious school for playground resurfacing, while providing grants to similarly situated non-religious groups, violated the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Establishment Clause

Establishment Clause of the First Amendmentestablishment of religionestablishment
The Free Exercise Clause accompanies the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In United States law, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, together with that Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, form the constitutional right of freedom of religion.

Peyote

Lophophora williamsiipeyotlAnhalonium lewinii
Examining a state prohibition on the use of peyote, the Supreme Court upheld the law despite the drug's use as part of a religious ritual, and without employing the strict scrutiny test.
US jurisdictions enacted these specific statutory exemptions in reaction to the US Supreme Court's decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Freedom of religion in the United States

religious freedomfreedom of religionreligion
The "Free Exercise Clause" states that Congress cannot "prohibit the free exercise" of religious practices.

Employment Division v. Smith

Employment Div. Dep't of Human Resources v. SmithEmployment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. SmithEmployment Division of Oregon
This view of the Free Exercise Clause would begin to narrow again in the 1980s, culminating in the 1990 case of Employment Division v. Smith.

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah

Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of HialeahChurch of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeahelaborated by the court in 1993
In 1993, the Supreme Court revisited the Free Exercise Clause in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in an Opinion of the Court joined in parts by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Byron White, John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas concluded that the city's ordinances violated the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution.

Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal

Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do VegetalGonzales v. O Centro EspiritaGonzales v. UDV
According to the court's ruling in Gonzales v. UDV (2006), RFRA remains applicable to federal statutes, which must therefore still meet the "compelling interest" standard in free exercise cases.
The Court found that the government was unable to detail the government's compelling interest in barring religious usage of Hoasca when applying strict scrutiny as required by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Separation of church and state

disestablishmentchurch and stateseparation of religion and state
Under the United States Constitution, the treatment of religion by the government is broken into two clauses: the establishment clause and the free exercise clause.

History of religion in the United States

United States religious historyRe-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred YearsAmerican religious history
In a letter written in 1802, Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "separation of church and state" to describe the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Supreme Court of the United States

United States Supreme CourtU.S. Supreme CourtSupreme Court
In 1878, the Supreme Court was first called to interpret the extent of the Free Exercise Clause in Reynolds v. United States, as related to the prosecution of polygamy under federal law.

Mormonism and polygamy

plural marriagepolygamyplural wife
In 1878, the Supreme Court was first called to interpret the extent of the Free Exercise Clause in Reynolds v. United States, as related to the prosecution of polygamy under federal law.

Human sacrifice

ritual murdersacrificedsacrifice
The Supreme Court upheld Reynolds' conviction for bigamy, deciding that to do otherwise would provide constitutional protection for a gamut of religious beliefs, including those as extreme as human sacrifice.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's WitnessJehovah’s WitnessesJehovah Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses were often the target of such restriction.

Thomas Jefferson

JeffersonPresident JeffersonJeffersonian
This case, which also revived Thomas Jefferson's statement regarding the "wall of separation" between church and state, introduced the position that although religious exercise is generally protected under the First Amendment, this does not prevent the government from passing neutral laws that incidentally impact certain religious practices.

Earl Warren

WarrenChief Justice Earl WarrenChief Justice Warren
This interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause continued into the 1960s and the ascendancy of the Warren Court under chief justice Earl Warren.

Strict scrutiny

scrutinyleast restrictive meanscompelling state interest
Applying a new standard of "strict scrutiny" in various areas of civil rights law, the Court began to apply this standard to the First Amendment religion clauses as well, reading the Free Exercise Clause to require accommodation of religious conduct except where a state could show a compelling interest and no less burdensome means to achieve that end.