42 U.S. Code § 2000bb - Congressional findings and declaration of purposes

§ 2000bb.
Congressional findings and declaration of purposes
(a) FindingsThe Congress finds that—
the framers of the Constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as an unalienable right, secured its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution;
laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;
governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;
in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion; and
the compelling interest test as set forth in prior Federal court rulings is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing prior governmental interests.
(b) PurposesThe purposes of this chapter are—
to restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) and to guarantee its application in all cases where free exercise of religion is substantially burdened; and
to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.
(Pub. L. 103–141, § 2, Nov. 16, 1993, 107 Stat. 1488.)
References in Text

This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b), was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 103–141, Nov. 16, 1993, 107 Stat. 1488, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note below and Tables.


For constitutionality of section 2 of Pub. L. 103–141, see Congressional Research Service, The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, Appendix 1, Acts of Congress Held Unconstitutional in Whole or in Part by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Short Title

Pub. L. 103–141, § 1, Nov. 16, 1993, 107 Stat. 1488, provided that:

“This Act [enacting this chapter and amending section 1988 of this title and section 504 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees] may be cited as the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993’.”

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42 CFR - Public Health


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