The Top Ten Reasons to Repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Tuesday’s Top Ten “Reasons tRepeal thRFRA

1.         Extreme religious liberty that shapes the law to individual believers without regard for others is not the religious freedom that we value under the First Amendment.

2.         The Supreme Court had the First Amendment right all along.  When Congress acted at the behest of religious lobbyists with RFRA, we received a regime of ever-increasing, insatiable demands by believers to accommodate them at all costs.

3.         RFRA was passed under false pretenses.  It was never a “restoration” of prior law, but rather a power grab by religious lobbyists.

4.         The least restrictive means test in RFRA tells the government to shape the law to individual believers, without reference to important and neutral government interests.  It is an invitation to intolerance.

5.         It invites believers to impose their beliefs on others in positions of vulnerability, including employees, women, children, other religious believers, and homosexuals.

6.         It is an invitation to discriminate.

7.         It trivializes the burden borne by the many oppressed by the believer’s invocation of RFRA, while it inflates the interests of the single believer.

8.         There is no natural limit to the number of cases and claims believers will make for extreme rights.  The burden on the judicial system and cost to the government for defending itself against extreme claims is not worth it.

9.         When available to for-profit companies, it divides the marketplace in products by inserting religious identity.  Instead of choosing a product on the merits, consumers are led to consider the religious identity of the owners of the corporation.

10.       It is unconstitutional, even though the federal government will not challenge its own law (even if it undermines so many federal statutes) and even though religious believers will never admit to its unconstitutionality.

Marci Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the United States’ leading church/state scholars and is a Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Academic Director and President of CHILD USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to interdisciplinary evidence-based research and tracking of medical, legal, and psychological developments to prevent and deter child abuse and neglect, which she co-leads with Dr. Steven Berkowitz, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and Dr. Paul Offit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She holds the Paul R. Verkuil Research Chair at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, through 2018.