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Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, also known as "RFRA") was enacted in 1993 pursuant to the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits Congress from passing laws infringing upon the free exercise of religion.
RFRA requires a compelling state interest test be imposed on all government laws and ordinances that might infringe upon one's exercise of religion.
The law reinstated the Sherbert Test, requiring that strict scrutiny be used to determine if the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, promising religious freedom, has been violated. In Sherbert, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision created the Sherbert Test, determining when government action runs afoul of the Free Exercise Clause. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963). The Court required the government demonstrate a compelling interest in cases such as these. Id.
In Boerne v. Flores, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling struck down part of this Act. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and noted that RFRA "contradicts vital principles necessary to maintain separation of powers and the federal balance." The majority held that Congress overreached its legitimate authority by setting a higher hurdle for the government to regulate activities of religious organizations. City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997).
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