CHANROBLES VIRTUAL LAW LIBRARY
US LAWS, STATUTES and CODES : Chan Robles Virtual Law Library USA Supreme Court Decisions | Resolutions : Chan Robles Virtual Law Library

ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library™ | chanrobles.com™   
Main Index Repository of Laws, Statutes and Codes Latest Philippine Supreme Court Decisions Chan Robles Virtual Law Library Latest Legal Updates Philippine Legal Resources Significant Philippine Legal Resources Worldwide Legal Resources Philippine Supreme Court Decisions United States Legal Resources United States Supreme Court Jurisprudence ChanRobles LawTube - Social Network

ChanRobles Internet Bar Review : www.chanroblesbar.com DebtKollect Company, Inc. - Debt Collection Firm Intellectual Property Division - Chan Robles Law Firm

Philippine Supreme Court DecisionsChanRobles On-Line Bar Review

google search for chanrobles.comSearch for www.chanrobles.com


EMPLOYMENT DIV. V. SMITH., 494 U. S. 872 (1990)

Subscribe to Cases that cite 494 U. S. 872 RSS feed for this section

U.S. Supreme Court

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

Employment Division, Department of

Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith

No. 88-1213

Argued Nov. 6, 1989

Decided April 17, 1990

494 U.S. 872

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. Their applications for unemployment compensation were denied by the State of Oregon under a state law disqualifying employees discharged for work-related "misconduct." Holding that the denials violated respondents' First Amendment free exercise rights, the State Court of Appeals reversed. The State Supreme Court affirmed, but this Court vacated the judgment and remanded for a determination whether sacramental peyote use is proscribed by the State's controlled substance law, which makes it a felony to knowingly or intentionally possess the drug. Pending that determination, the Court refused to decide whether such use is protected by the Constitution. On remand, the State Supreme Court held that sacramental peyote use violated, and was not excepted from, the state law prohibition, but concluded that that prohibition was invalid under the Free Exercise Clause.

Held: The Free Exercise Clause permits the State to prohibit sacramental peyote use, and thus to deny unemployment benefits to persons discharged for such use. Pp. 494 U. S. 876-890.

(a) Although a State would be "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" in violation of the Clause if it sought to ban the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts solely because of their religious motivation, the Clause does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a law that incidentally forbids (or requires) the performance of an act that his religious belief requires (or forbids) if the law is not specifically directed to religious practice and is otherwise constitutional as applied to those who engage in the specified act for nonreligious reasons. See, e.g., Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145, 98 U. S. 166-167. The only decisions in which this Court has held that the First Amendment bars application of a neutral, generally applicable law to religiously motivated action are distinguished on the ground that they involved not the Free Exercise Clause alone, but that Clause in conjunction with other constitutional chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 494 U. S. 873

protections. See, e.g., Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 U. S. 304-307; Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U. S. 205. Pp. 494 U. S. 876-882.

(b) Respondents' claim for a religious exemption from the Oregon law cannot be evaluated under the balancing test set forth in the line of cases following Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398, 374 U. S. 402-403, whereby governmental actions that substantially burden a religious practice must be justified by a "compelling governmental interest." That test was developed in a context -- unemployment compensation eligibility rules -- that lent itself to individualized governmental assessment of the reasons for the relevant conduct. The test is inapplicable to an across-the-board criminal prohibition on a particular form of conduct. A holding to the contrary would create an extraordinary right to ignore generally applicable laws that are not supported by "compelling governmental interest" on the basis of religious belief. Nor could such a right be limited to situations in which the conduct prohibited is "central" to the individual's religion, since that would enmesh judges in an impermissible inquiry into the centrality of particular beliefs or practices to a faith. Cf. Hernandez v. Commissioner, 490 U. S. 680, 490 U. S. 699. Thus, although it is constitutionally permissible to exempt sacramental peyote use from the operation of drug laws, it is not constitutionally required. Pp. 494 U. S. 882-890.

307 Or. 68, 763 P.2d 146, reversed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J.,and WHITE, STEVENS, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in Parts I and II of which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined without concurring in the judgment, post, p. 494 U. S. 891. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 494 U. S. 907. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 494 U. S. 874





Back
ChanRobles™ LawTube

google search for chanrobles.com Search for www.chanrobles.com


Supreme Court Decisions Philippine Supreme Court DecisionsUS Supreme Court Decisions



www.chanrobles.us




QUICK SEARCH

cralaw

Browse By ->> Volume


cralaw

Browse By ->> Year


cralaw

  Copyright © ChanRobles Publishing Company | Disclaimer | E-mail Restrictions
ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™
 
RED