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Employment division v. Smith, 494 U.S 872 Essay

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Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)
A rehabilitation clinic dismissed two drug rehabilitation counselors for using peyote in a religious ceremony. The two counselors, including Smith, sought unemployment benefits. Possessing peyote is a criminal offense in the State of Oregon. The rehabilitation clinic denied the counselors unemployment on grounds of misconduct. Smith filed suit again the clinic. The Oregon Supreme Court overruled the rehabilitation clinic’s verdict. The court stated that Smith’s religious use of peyote was protected under the First Amendment's freedom of religion. The Employment Division, Department of Resources appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that possession and use of peyote is a crime. The Supreme Court returned the case back to Oregon State Courts to determine if Oregon law prohibits the use and possession of peyote for religious purposes. Oregon State court ruled that consumption of illegal drugs for religious purposes was still considered illegal; however, they were also aware that this ruling also violated the First Amendment. The main issue is whether the government can prevent the religious use of peyote under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, even if a law prohibits it for everyone else. In addition, can the state deny unemployment benefits to someone who has been fired for using peyote for religious purposes?
The Supreme Court reversed the decision concluding that Smith et al. were using their religious beliefs and the First Amendment to condone their illegal drug use. In addition the Justices expressed the view that the law applied to the general public, not to just one religious group. Therefore, in a 6-3 decision, the Supr...


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...mmigration reform is still a much contested issue today. Unfortunately most of the negativity is due to money and resources. The issue in Plyler V Doe arose because Texas was trying to find a pay for the education of its illegal children without burdening its legal aliens and citizens. Plyler v Doe brings up bigger themes such as the fairness of our children and how society will treat its illegal children. The children of illegal immigrants should not be held accountable for the actions of their parents; therefore, they should not be punished for their parents’ decisions. Our children are our future and for the betterment of society we have the obligation to provide an education to everyone.


References
Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)
Plyer v. Doe, 452 U.S. 202 (1982) 102 S. Ct. 2382
Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)







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