Sara Smolik

Document Type



The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act was Congress’s second attempt to undo the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources v. Smith, and thus increase the level of scrutiny used in evaluating land use laws under the Free Exercise Clause. This Note first analyzes the constitutionality of the Act, concluding that the Supreme Court would likely find the Act unconstitutional, even though lower federal courts may hesitate to do so. Second, regardless of the constitutionality of the Act, this Note concludes that it does not serve the purpose it was designed for, as the exceptions written into Smith cover the situations the Act was designed to “protect.” More detrimentally, the mere existence of the Act dissuades further development of free exercise jurisprudence.