Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Essay - 931 Words

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Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

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I chose the category Freedom of Religion because I find the many different religions followed in America fascinating. I enjoy learning about them all and expanding my knowledge of the rituals and celebrations different religions participate in. I chose The Free Exercise Clause sub category because I find how even though the first amendment provides freedom of religion it does not give freedom of all religious practices such as polygamy and sacrifice. The U.S. constitution protects against the governments interference with the citizens freedom to worship or not worship as they please by the first amendment. This Amendment guarantees the right for citizens to freely practice their religion as they choose to which may seem simple, but becomes complicated when the actions of religious groups are unaccepted by society or go against other laws. In Employment Division v. Smith 1998, the Supreme Court discarded the previous requirement for a compelling interest before governmental limitation or prohibition of religious practices. The court ruled it constitutional for state laws to interfere with religious practices as long as the law is not aimed at singling out and banning religious practices. In this case persons using the drug peyote as part of their religious rituals were prosecuted by the state of Oregon (Edwards, &Wattenberg, &Lineberry, 2008). The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was an attempt to overturn the principle court ruling in Smith. This act gave the right to perform religious rituals unless the government could prove the law or regulation in question to be narrowly tailored and in pursuit of a compelling interest. This act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997 because it was an intrusion regulating the health and welfare of the states citizens. In 2006 the law still applied to federal government and a religious sect was allowed to use a hallucinogenic in the form of a tea in... Show More

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