The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – through its Institute for Public Affairs, expressed its disappointment with the Supreme Court decision striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [“RFRA”]. RFRA was passed overwhelmingly by Congress to correct an earlier Supreme Court decision in which the Court removed any requirement for a government entity to demonstrate a compelling interest should a law or regulation infringe the free exercise of religion. The IPA joined with other religious organizations in a brief urging the Court to uphold RFRA. In striking down RFRA, the Court held that Congress had exceeded its powers and contradicted “vital principles necessary to maintain the separation of powers” in our federal system.
Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs, issued the following statement:
We are greatly disappointed with the Court’s decision to strike down RFRA. While we recognize that the Court has the power in our system to serve as the final arbiter of what the free exercise clause contemplates, we feel it is appropriate for Congress to attempt to provide greater protections for religious freedom in the face of Court decisions to the contrary. We take comfort in the fact that, in light of yesterday’s decision by the Court in the Agostini case, the Court does appreciate the role of religion in American society and that it apparently viewed this issue as one strictly confined to the separation of powers in our federal system. The Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs will work closely with congressional leaders to ensure that the free exercise of religion in the United States is properly secured and protected.