Today, Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in support of new legislation to afford greater protection to the practice of religion in the United States.
Legislation, the Religious Liberty Protection Act [“RLPA”], that has been moving toward a House vote later this month was first considered by the Senate through today’s hearing.
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 is the least burdensome to religious practice.
Mr. Diament, an attorney who heads up the political and legal affairs arm for the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the country, stated the strong support of the Orthodox Jewish community for this legislation. Diament also illustrated the community’s need for this legislation by describing instances where zoning regulations have been used to thwart the expansion of Orthodox Jewish communities throughout the country.
Mr. Diament also stressed that it has been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its last decision undercutting religious liberty rights and that Congress must act to address this situation in this session.