Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith

In Employment Division Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990), the Supreme Court ruled that their religious beliefs do not necessarily exempt people from compliance with neutral, generally applicable laws. The ruling has had a significant effect on the interpretation of the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment. Although Employment Division was not an education case, it has had a broad and profound effect on disputes involving persons alleging that government entities have limited or intruded upon the exercise of their religion, both in and out of educational contexts.

The Ruling

At issue in Employment Division was the status of two former employees of the Oregon Department of Human Resources who were discharged for violating the state's illegal drug act by using ...

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