In response, both liberal (like the ACLU) and conservative groups (like the Traditional Values Coalition) joined forces to support RFRA, which would reinstate the Sherbert Test, overturning laws if "religious exercise is substantially burdened" by them, unless the law is the "least restrictive means" of furthering a compelling state interest. The act passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio wanted to enlarge a church in Boerne, Texas. But a Boerne ordinance protected the church as a historic landmark and did not permit it to be torn down. The church sued, citing RFRA, and in the resulting case, City of Boerne v. Flores, , the Supreme Court struck down the RFRA, stating that Congress had stepped beyond their power of enforcement. In response to the Boerne ruling, Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in 2000.
However, most scholars believed RFRA still applied to federal acts (the U.S. Congress can modify the interpretation of their own laws, after all) and a number of states have passed so-called mini-RFRAs, applying the rule to the laws of their own state.
This interpretation was confirmed on February 21, 2006, as the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the government in Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, , which involved the use of an otherwise illegal substance in a religious ceremony, decisively stating that the federal government must show a compelling state interest in restricting religious freedom.
Unanimous Supreme Court Elucidates Religious Freedom Restoration Act.(Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993)
May 04, 2006; In the first opinion of the Roberts Court to address the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), a unanimous (8-0)...