494 U.S.872 PDF

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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As the Court recounts, respondents Alfred Smith and Galen Black were denied unemployment compensation benefits because their sacramental use of peyote constituted work-related “misconduct,” not because they violated Oregon’s general criminal prohibition against possession of peyote.

The Court’s holding .us.872 not only misreads settled First Amendment precedent; it appears to be unnecessary to this case. United States, supra, U. It observed that ArizonaColoradoand New Mexico already specifically exempted religious uses from their otherwise generally applicable peyote bans. It is one thing to impose a tax on the income or property of a preacher. Legislatures, of course, have always been “left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.

Estate of Shabazz, U. III Finally, although I agree with Justice O’CONNOR that courts should u.s.82 from delving into questions of whether, as a matter of religious doctrine, a particular practice is “central” to u.s.872 religion, ante atI 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.

Our most recent decision involving a neutral, generally applicable regulatory law that compelled activity forbidden by an individual’s religion was United States v. This potentially devastating impact must be viewed in light of the federal policy — reached in reaction to many years 4994 religious persecution and intolerance — of protecting the religious freedom of Native Americans.

I At the outset, I note that I agree with the Court’s implicit determination that the constitutional question upon which we granted review — whether the Free Exercise Clause protects a person’s religiously motivated use of peyote from the reach of a State’s general criminal law prohibition — is properly presented in this case.


Nor would application of our established free exercise doctrine to this case necessarily be incompatible with our equal protection cases. McRae Thomas v. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, in itself, may not create rights enforceable against government action restricting religious freedom, but this Court must scrupulously apply its free exercise analysis to the religious claims of Native Americans, however unorthodox they may be. Just as a society that believes in the negative protection accorded to the press by the First Amendment is likely to enact laws that affirmatively foster the dissemination of the printed word, so also a society that believes in the negative protection accorded to religious belief can be expected to be solicitous of that value in its legislation as well.

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

But this comparison with other fields supports, rather than undermines, the conclusion we draw today. If the First Amendment is to have any vitality, it ought not be construed to cover only the extreme and hypothetical situation in which a State directly targets a religious practice.

Justice O’Connor likewise suggested that Smith and Black seek u.z.872 in the state legislature and not the courts, for the fact that other states allow religious use u.s.782 peyote does not compel Oregon to follow suit.

Accordingly, we [p] vacated the judgment of the Oregon Supreme Court and remanded for further proceedings. We have, in any event, recognized that the Free Exercise Clause protects values distinct from those protected by the Equal Protection Clause.

The State’s interest in enforcing its prohibition, in order to be sufficiently compelling to outweigh a free exercise claim, [p] cannot be merely abstract or symbolic. As we explained in Thomas: The Court today gives no convincing reason to depart from settled First Amendment jurisprudence. Illinois New York Times Co.

Socialist Workers ’74 Campaign Committee Regan v. If a state has in place a system of individualized consideration, the constitution did not allow the state to refuse to u.x.872 that system to cases of religious hardship without a compelling reason. But as the Court later notes, as it must, in cases such as Cantwell and Yoder, we have in fact interpreted the Free Exercise Clause to forbid application of 4494 generally applicable prohibition to religiously motivated conduct.


Thirty-seven Photographs Kois v.

See also Sherbert, supra, U. Flores Watchtower Society v.

Sullivan Curtis Publishing Co. Falwell Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc. If the “compelling interest” test is to be applied at all, then, it must 4944 applied across the board, to all actions thought to be religiously commanded. The majority opinion was delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Under the Sherbert test, governmental actions that substantially burden a religious practice must be justified by a compelling governmental interest. We agreed, concluding that if a State has prohibited through u.s872 criminal laws certain kinds of religiously motivated conduct without violating the First Amendment, it certainly follows that it may impose the lesser burden of denying unemployment compensation benefits to persons who engage in that conduct.

The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind — ranging from. Maryland Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. The Court discards leading free exercise cases such as Cantwell v. Sidotior before the government may regulate the content of speech, see, e.

Employment Division v. Smith

The government may not require the Amish to send their children to school because their religion demands otherwise, and Amish parents, like all parents, have the right to direct the education of their children. Syllabus OpinionScalia ConcurrenceO’Connor DissentBlackmun Syllabus Respondents Smith and Black were fired by a private drug rehabilitation organization because they ingested peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, for sacramental purposes at a ceremony of their Native American Church.

I would therefore adhere to our established free exercise jurisprudence and hold that the State in this case has a compelling interest in regulating peyote use by its citizens, and that accommodating respondents’ religiously motivated conduct “will unduly interfere with fulfillment of the governmental interest.

We again granted certiorari. Commissioner, supra, U. 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.