“Extreme Religious Liberty Rights”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed back in 1997.  Liberal Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer introduced it, the House passed it unanimously and the Senate voted for it 97-3, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law.

But now the Freedom from Religion Foundation is asking the Supreme Court to declare it unconstituional.

From Mark Barrett, “Extreme Religious Liberty Rights” | First Thoughts | Blogs | First Things:

Twenty-one years after the RFRA was introduced in the House of Representatives by Chuck Schumer, passed nearly unanimously by Congress, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to strike it down as an unconstitutional “takeover of the Court’s power to interpret the Constitution” and a violation of the Establishment Clause. Terming the protections of RFRA as “extreme religious liberty rights,” the Foundation and associated groups go beyond even what the Obama administration requests, asserting not only that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood don’t qualify for the law’s protections, but rather that RFRA itself is unconstitutional. . .

So though RFRA had near unanimous backing in 1993 and restores the Supreme Court’s free exercise doctrine which was accepted from the 1963Sherbertdecision authored by Justice William Brennan until Employment Division v. Smith in 1990, the applications of that doctrine are now said to be “extreme religious liberty rights.” Unlikely as it may be for the Court to go beyond the arguments presented by the parties themselves to rule RFRA unconstitutional, the phrase “extreme religious liberty rights” is one defenders of religious liberty ought to prepare to hear a lot of in the coming years.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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