494 U.S.872 PDF

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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Roy, supra, U. Supreme Court of the United States. The State of Oregon cannot, consistently with the Free Exercise Clause, deny respondents unemployment benefits. Thus, this case is distinguishable from United States v. See Yoder, U. Although we have sometimes purported to apply the Sherbert test in contexts other than that, we have always found the test satisfied, see United States v. Finally, the State argues that granting an exception for religious peyote use would erode its interest in the uu.s.872, fair, and certain enforcement of its drug laws.

Justice O’Connor likewise suggested that Smith and Black seek redress in 44 state legislature and not the courts, for the fact that other states allow religious use of peyote does not compel Oregon to follow suit.

The Oregon Supreme Court reasoned, however, that the criminality of respondents’ peyote use was irrelevant to resolution of u.x.872 constitutional claim — since the purpose of the “misconduct” provision under which respondents had been disqualified was not to enforce the State’s criminal laws, but to preserve the financial integrity of the compensation fund, and since that purpose was inadequate to justify the burden that disqualification imposed on respondents’ religious practice.

Moreover, in each of the other cases cited by the Court to support its categorical rule, ante at U. We conclude today that the sounder approach, and the approach in accord with the vast u.s.72 of our precedents, is to u.s.82 the test inapplicable to such challenges.

It then considered whether that prohibition was valid under the Free Exercise Clause, and concluded that it was not. A person who is barred from engaging in religiously motivated conduct is barred from freely exercising his religion.

Employment Div. v. Smith :: U.S. () :: Justia US Supreme Court Center

As we explained in Thomas: Citing our decisions in Sherbert v. U.872 “compelling government interest” requirement seems benign, because it is familiar from other fields.


Oregon also claimed an interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens from the dangers of illegal drug use, but there was no evidence that religious use of peyote actually harmed anyone.

But other governments may surely choose to grant an exemption without Oregon, with its specific asserted interest in uniform application of its drug laws, being required to do so by the First Amendment.

Review Board, Indiana Employment Div.

United States, supra, U. Earlier decisions on the withholding of unemployment benefits had used a strict scrutiny standard of review, which requires identifying a compelling government interest. It u.x.872 therefore not surprising that a number of States have made an exception to their drug laws for sacramental peyote use. Although the question is close, I would conclude that uniform application of Oregon’s criminal prohibition is “essential to accomplish,” Lee, supra, at U.

Employment Division v. Smith

But a government interest in symbolism, even symbolism for so worthy a cause as the abolition of unlawful drugs, cannot suffice to abrogate the constitutional rights of individuals. As he often does, Scalia noted that people in a similar position to the terminated employees could pursue legislative reform to amend the law. Cornell Law School Search Cornell. Playboy Entertainment Group Ashcroft v.

City of Hialeah, F. Barnette overruling Minersville School District v. Thus, the First Amendment obviously excludes all “governmental regulation of religious beliefs as such. The history of our free exercise doctrine amply demonstrates the harsh impact majoritarian rule has had on unpopular or emerging religious groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Amish.

Clause itself makes clear, an u.s.82 free exercise of religion is a preferred constitutional activity. To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, us.872 in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v Smith

Our cases do not at their farthest reach support u.d.872 proposition that a stance of conscientious opposition relieves an objector from any colliding duty fixed by a democratic government. This Court over the years painstakingly has developed a consistent and exacting standard to test the constitutionality of a state statute that burdens the free exercise of religion. The test is inapplicable to an across-the-board criminal prohibition on a particular form of conduct.

City of Berkeley Brown v. The State of Oregon cannot, consistently with the Free Exercise Clause, deny respondents unemployment benefits. It is no more necessary to regard the collection of a general tax, for example, as “prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]” by those citizens who believe support of organized government to be sinful than it is to regard the same tax as “abridging the freedom.


The Divine Cactus “[T]he eating of peyote usually is a difficult ordeal in that nausea and other unpleasant physical manifestations occur regularly. It is no [p] more appropriate for judges to determine the “centrality” of religious beliefs before applying a “compelling interest” test in the free exercise field than it would be for them to determine the “importance” of ideas before applying the “compelling interest” test in the free speech field.

This distinction makes sense because.

Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)

The dissenters observed that it was unclear whether using peyote in religious ceremonies actually caused physical harm, as the state asserted in arguing that the ban h.s.872 a compelling interest. Views Read Edit View history. The First Amendment, however, does not distinguish between laws that are generally applicable and laws that target particular religious practices.

The Native American Church discourages nonreligious use of peyote, and promotes family harmony, self-reliance, and abstinence from alcohol. Futterman, Ethnopsychedelic Therapy for Alcoholics: As we have noted in a slightly different context, “[s]uch a test has no basis in precedent and relegates a serious First Amendment value to the barest level of minimum scrutiny that the Equal Protection Clause already provides.

United States Supreme Court case. Allen Aguilar v. In this case, the State’s justification for refusing to recognize an exception to its criminal laws for religious peyote use is entirely speculative. Respondents contend that, because the Oregon Supreme Court u.s.872 to decide whether the Oregon Constitution prohibits criminal prosecution for the religious use of peyote, see id.

To measure an individual interest directly against one of these rarified values inevitably makes the individual 449 appear the less significant” ; Pound, A Survey of Social Interests, 57 Harv. In both Bowen v. It was directly linked to the exercise of their religious beliefs, the sincerity of which the Court does not and should not question. As we observed in Smith I, however, the conduct at issue in those cases was not prohibited by law.

United States, F.