Text: H.R.1308 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

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Enrolled Bill

[Congressional Bills 103th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1308 Enrolled Bill (ENR)]

                       One Hundred Third Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America

                          AT THE FIRST SESSION

          Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
  the fifth day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-three

                                 An Act

                To protect the free exercise of religion.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 


    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds that--
        (1) the framers of the Constitution, recognizing free exercise 
    of religion as an unalienable right, secured its protection in the 
    First Amendment to the Constitution;
        (2) laws ``neutral'' toward religion may burden religious 
    exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious 
        (3) governments should not substantially burden religious 
    exercise without compelling justification;
        (4) in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) the 
    Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the 
    government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws 
    neutral toward religion; and
        (5) the compelling interest test as set forth in prior Federal 
    court rulings is a workable test for striking sensible balances 
    between religious liberty and competing prior governmental 
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
        (1) to restore the compelling interest test as set forth in 
    Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 
    U.S. 205 (1972) and to guarantee its application in all cases where 
    free exercise of religion is substantially burdened; and
        (2) to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious 
    exercise is substantially burdened by government.


    (a) In General.--Government shall not substantially burden a 
person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of 
general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).
    (b) Exception.--Government may substantially burden a person's 
exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the 
burden to the person--
        (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
        (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling 
    governmental interest.
    (c) Judicial Relief.--A person whose religious exercise has been 
burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a 
claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief 
against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this 
section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article 
III of the Constitution.


    (a) Judicial Proceedings.--Section 722 of the Revised Statutes (42 
U.S.C. 1988) is amended by inserting ``the Religious Freedom Restoration 
Act of 1993,'' before ``or title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964''.
    (b) Administrative Proceedings.--Section 504(b)(1)(C) of title 5, 
United States Code, is amended--
        (1) by striking ``and'' at the end of clause (ii);
        (2) by striking the semicolon at the end of clause (iii) and 
    inserting ``, and''; and
        (3) by inserting ``(iv) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 
    1993;'' after clause (iii).


    As used in this Act--
        (1) the term ``government'' includes a branch, department, 
    agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under 
    color of law) of the United States, a State, or a subdivision of a 
        (2) the term ``State'' includes the District of Columbia, the 
    Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and each territory and possession of 
    the United States;
        (3) the term ``demonstrates'' means meets the burdens of going 
    forward with the evidence and of persuasion; and
        (4) the term ``exercise of religion'' means the exercise of 
    religion under the First Amendment to the Constitution.


    (a) In General.--This Act applies to all Federal and State law, and 
the implementation of that law, whether statutory or otherwise, and 
whether adopted before or after the enactment of this Act.
    (b) Rule of Construction.--Federal statutory law adopted after the 
date of the enactment of this Act is subject to this Act unless such law 
explicitly excludes such application by reference to this Act.
    (c) Religious Belief Unaffected.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
construed to authorize any government to burden any religious belief.


    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in 
any way address that portion of the First Amendment prohibiting laws 
respecting the establishment of religion (referred to in this section as 
the ``Establishment Clause''). Granting government funding, benefits, or 
exemptions, to the extent permissible under the Establishment Clause, 
shall not constitute a violation of this Act. As used in this section, 
the term ``granting'', used with respect to government funding, 
benefits, or exemptions, does not include the denial of government 
funding, benefits, or exemptions.

                                Speaker of the House of Representatives.

                             Vice President of the United States and    
                                                President of the Senate.

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