City of Boerne v. Flores
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Time Period
6/25/1997
Description
In its opinion in City of Boerne v. Flores, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had overstepped its constitutional powers in enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). RFRA, a legislative act, mandated that judges at both the state and federal levels employ the compelling state interest test (see Sherbert v. Verner) when ruling on religious free exercise claims. But in City of Boerne v. Flores, the Supreme Court held that RFRA tried to change the meaning of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause as established in the Court's Employment Division v. Smith (1990) decision and exceeded the scope of Congress’s constitutional powers. RFRA was thus ruled inapplicable to free exercise claims made in the state courts. However, see the entry for Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal [2006] for RFRA's status in federal courts.
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Photographs

Archbishop Patrick Flores- National Archives and Records Administration

County Courthouse, Boerne TX- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Larry D Moore (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Chief Justice William Rehnquist- US Department of Justice
Book/Journal Source(s)
Flowers, Ronald, 2005. That Godless Court? Supreme Court Decisions on Church-State Relationships, 2nd ed.. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Web Page Contributor
Robert Martin
Affliated with: Assistant Professor, Southeastern Lousiana University

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