by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

The Smith Case

§ 12.02.01
Key point 12-02.01. In the Smith case (1990) the Supreme Court ruled that a neutral law of general applicability is presumably valid and need not be supported by a compelling government interest to be consistent with the First Amendment, even if it interferes with the exercise of religion.

Oregon law prohibits the intentional possession of a "controlled substance," including the drug peyote. Two employees of a private drug rehabilitation organization were fired from their jobs because they consumed peyote for "sacramental purposes" at a ceremony of the Native American Church. The two individuals applied for unemployment benefits under Oregon law, but their application was denied on the grounds that benefits are not payable to employees who are discharged for "misconduct." The two former employees claimed that the denial of benefits violated their constitutional ...

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