May 12 1999
ORTHODOX UNION CALLS FOR HOUSE PASSAGE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY LEGISLATION
Contact: Nathan Diament, (202) 857-2770
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, called upon the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution to quickly clear the way for a vote of the full House on the Religious Liberty Protection Act.
The essence of this legislation, supported by a bipartisan group of representatives and today by a broad coalition of religious communities, seeks to redress the severe blows dealt to our nation's 'first freedom' by the Supreme Court in recent years. In handing down its ruling in Employment Division vs. Smith and then, more recently, striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Court has severely impaired the rights contemplated by the Free Exercise Clause out of our Constitution.
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.
Institute for Public Affairs director Nathan Diament issued the following statement at today's House Subcommittee hearing:
The United States was founded upon the bedrock principle of that any citizen should enjoy the right to freely practice their faith without interference by the state. RLPA is a critical step in securing this fundamental freedom for all Americans and we hope Congress will act quickly to secure its passage into law.