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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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It is a teacher; it teaches the way to spiritual life through living in 449 and balance with the forces of the Creation. The State’s apprehension of a flood of other religious claims is purely speculative. Respondents also note that the sacramental use of peyote is central to the tenets of the Native American Church, but I agree with the Court, ante atthat because “[i]t is not within the judicial ken to question the centrality of particular beliefs or practices to a faith,” Hernandez, supra, atour determination of the constitutionality of Oregon’s general criminal prohibition cannot, and should not, turn on the centrality of the particular [p] religious practice at issue.

The Sherbert compelling interest test applies in both kinds of cases. Respondents believe, and u.872 sincerity has never been at issue, that the u.s.8772 plant embodies their deity, and eating it is an act of worship and communion.

To say that a person’s right to free exercise has been burdened, of course, does not mean that he has an absolute right to engage in the conduct. Peyote is a sacrament of the Native American Church, and is regarded as vital to respondents’ ability to practice their religion.

Moreover, we have not “rejected” or “declined to apply” the compelling interest test in our recent cases.

The majority, however, perfunctorily dismisses it as a “constitutional anomaly. Respondents in the present case, however, seek to carry the meaning of “prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]” one large step further.


Opinion Announcement – April 17, I would reaffirm that principle today: Just as a society that believes in the negative protection accorded uu.s.872 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, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)

The government’s ability to enforce generally applicable prohibitions of socially harmful conduct, like its ability to carry out other aspects of public policy, “cannot depend on measuring the effects of a governmental action on a religious objector’s spiritual development.

California Dennis v. It provides real help in seeing themselves not as people whose place and way in the world is gone, but as people whose way can be strong enough to change and meet new challenges'” quoting Bergman, at ; P.

The use of peyote is, to some degree, self-limiting. But to agree that religiously grounded conduct must often be subject to the broad police power of the State is not to deny that there are areas of conduct protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and thus beyond the power of the State to control, even under regulations of general applicability.

Employment Division v. Smith

United States, supra, U. This Court, however, consistently has rejected similar arguments in past free exercise cases, and it should do so here as well. The distinction between u.s.87 of centrality and questions of sincerity and burden is admittedly fine, but it is one that is an established part of our free exercise doctrine, see Ballard, U. It u.s.827 fairly be said that leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in; but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself or in which judges weigh the social importance of all laws against the centrality of all religious beliefs.


Two years later, he forbade Indians under the age u.s8.72 50 from participating in any dances of any kind, and directed federal employees “to educate public opinion” against them. In short, it effectuates a wholesale overturning of settled law concerning the Religion Clauses of our Constitution.

The First Amendment, however, does not distinguish between laws that are generally applicable and laws that target particular religious u.s.872. The Oregon Supreme Court, on remand from this Court, concluded that “the Oregon statute against possession of controlled substances, which include peyote, makes no exception u.s.872 the sacramental use of peyote. See Lupu, Where Rights Begin: Firestone Bose Corp.

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

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. We have, in any event, recognized that the Free Exercise Clause protects values distinct from those protected by the Equal Protection Clause.

Its Apparent Safety, Am. Far from promoting the lawless and irresponsible use of drugs, Native American Church members’ spiritual Page U.

Employment Division v. Smith – Wikipedia

See also Hobbie, supra, U. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.