Oregon v. Smith

Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Alfred Smith

Basic Facts:

2 Native Americans, who are councilors at a drug rehabilitation center, consumed powerful hallucinations for religious purposes. They were fired from their jobs and then they claimed Unemployment Compensation. Oregon's government denied them because they were dismissed for "misconduct". The 2 men lost in state court. The case then went to the US supreme court and they vacated oregon's judgement and returned case to determine if sacramental drug use violated oregon's state drug law. On remand, Oregon supreme court concluded that while oregon drug law prohibited consumption of illegal drugs for religious use it violated free exercise clause. The case returned to US supreme court in new posture. Through the use of compelling interest, they concluded that you can deny unemployment benefits when fired for the use of drug use for religious freedom.

Constitutional Reference:

Can a state deny unemployment benefits to a worker fired for using illegal drugs for religious purposes?

Precedent Established:

In any job an employer has the right to deny unemployment benefits when fired for using illegal drugs for religious purposes.

Historic Significance:

This changed how the nation will view how much religious freedom will be given to citizens. It also puts pressure on the government to start to set boundaries of what will be okay and what will not be okay for the future.

Significance Today:

Today employers have the ability to fire and deny benefits to any employee if what they are doing goes against their work regulations regardless if it is for religious purposes or not because the law that is put into place is not directly trying to block their religion.

Future Significance:

This case set the change for the viewing on religious freedom. Due to this change, the government is going to have do decide how much leniency they are going to give people for their religious acts. They will also have to decide if the laws that they put in place will backfire because it denies people the religious freedoms they came to America for. This will also influence jobs and who gets to keep their jobs based on their actions.