The Church and the RFRA

Priests for Life, the nation’s largest Catholic organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia, has filed suit against the Obama administration for its birth-control mandate, claiming it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. It’s a plausible argument — and a role reversal for the Catholic Church.

In April 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in Employment Division v. Smith that the state of Oregon could deny unemployment benefits to men fired because they had used peyote, despite the fact that they had used it at a ceremony in a Native American church. Writing for the Court, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the First Amendment did not prohibit “neutral, generally applicable” laws that incidentally burdened religiously motivated activity.

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