Religious Freedom Restoration Act Is Voided

1997

In Boerne v. Flores, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Congress passed the law in response to a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Employment Division v. Smith, that abandoned the “compelling interest” principle in restricting religious practices. The law reinstated that principle, saying that government could not enforce laws that “substantially burden” religious observance without showing a “compelling interest” and without using the “least restrictive means available.” In Boerne, the Court asserts its judicial power and says Congress overstepped its authority.