The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, commends the House Judiciary Committee for yesterday’s passing of the Religious Liberty Protection Act. The measure was introduced by a bipartisan group of members including House Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Charles Canaday (R-FL) and Judiciary Committee member Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
The essence of this legislation, supported by a bipartisan group of representatives and by a broad coalition of religious communities, seeks to redress the severe blows dealt to our nation’s “first freedom” by the Supreme Court in recent years. In handing down its ruling in Employment Division vs. Smith and then, more recently, striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Court has severely impaired the rights contemplated by the Free Exercise Clause of our Constitution.
Under current law, a state or local government may pass a law or regulation that interferes with a citizen’s ability to practice his or her religion with little justification. “RLPA” will require a government to demonstrate that any religion burdening law is pursuant to a compelling interest and is the means of addressing that interest in the least burdensome manner.
Institute for Public Affairs director Nathan Diament issued the following statement after the House Committee’s affirmative vote yesterday:
The United States was founded upon the bedrock principle that any citizen should enjoy the right to freely practice their faith without interference by the state. RLPA is a critical step in securing this fundamental freedom for all Americans and we hope Congress will act quickly to secure its passage into law.