Sherbert v. Verner
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In Sherbert v. Verner, the Supreme Court set the precedent that the "compelling state interest" test should be used to adjudicate federal Free Exercise Clause violations. Under the "Sherbert test," claimants must show that the government has imposed a substantial burden on their free exercise of religion. If they do this, they will prevail in their claim unless the government shows that burdening the claimant's free exercise is necessary to promote a compelling state interest (i.e., an interest of the greatest importance), and that burdening religious practice is the least restrictive means of promoting that interest. The case concerned a Seventh-day Adventist who was denied unemployment compensation from the state of South Carolina after she could not find work that let her fulfill her religious obligation to not work on Saturdays. Using this test, the Supreme Court held that she deserved compensation from the state.
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Warren Court- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-113496
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Flowers, Ronald, 2005. That Godless Court? Supreme Court Decisions on Church-State Relationships, 2nd ed.. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
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Affliated with: Assistant Professor, Southeastern Lousiana University