FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT OF 1993
Until 1990 courts interpreted the Free Exercise Clause as mandating
an exemption from a generally applicable statute, ordinance,
or regulation which burdened the free exercise of religion
unless the law was supported by a government interest
of the highest order which was effected by a legislative
program which had the least possible burden on the free
exercise of religion. See e.g., Sherbert
v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin
v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972). In 1990, the
United States Supreme Court somewhat diminished Free Exercise
Clause exemptions from generally applicable laws.
See Employment Div. v. Smith, 485 U.S. 660 (1988).
Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act of 1993 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act of 2000. The United States Supreme Court
has declared the Religious Freedom Restoration Act unconstitutional
to the extent that it is applied against state and local
laws. City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S.
507 (1997). It has continuing force and effect
against federal statutes and regulations. Many states
also passed statutes which to one degree or another restore
earlier protections for the free exercise of religion.
Those state statutes may be found at the Lewis Roca Rothgerber Religious
Liberty Archive's State Statutes.
Lewis Roca Rothgerber
Religious Institutions Group
with Religious Freedom Restoration Acts: