Restoring Rights to Rites: The Religious Motivation Test and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

This Note argues that the religious motivation test best secures the religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution and the RFRA. Part I examines the text and legislative history of the Act and establishes that Congress intended to protect religiously motivated practices. Part II argues that the free exercise case law prior to Smith, to which the RFRA explicitly appeals, did not require litigants to prove centrality or compulsion. Part III demonstrates that the religious motivation test protects the full spectrum of religious practices and religious groups, unlike the centrality test and the compulsion test. Part IV illustrates that the motivation test, unlike competing approaches, does not require courts to make judgments that exceed the bounds of their capacity and their authority. This Note concludes that a claimant who demonstrates a government infringement of a religiously motivated practice satisfies the substantial burden requirement of the RFRA.