A Standard for Salvation: Evaluating 'Hybrid Rights' Free-Exercise Claims

William J. Haun

affiliation not provided to SSRN

November 1, 2011

Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 1, 2011

In Employment Division v. Smith, the United States Supreme Court articulated the only avenue by which an individual could use the Free Exercise of Religion Clause to obtain a religious-based exemption from a law of general applicability. These "hybrid claims," where the free exercise interest acts in conjunction with another constitutional claim, experienced no subsequent explanation from either the Congress or the Supreme Court, leaving lower courts to question their veracity or dismiss them outright -- circumventing binding Supreme Court precedent, and denying relief to religious discrimination. The recent U.S. Supreme Court case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez is an example of the Court's disinterest in explaining the doctrine, and the consequences of such disinterest. This article argues that the Smith Court created a bona fide hybrid exception to its free-exercise rule, and works with earlier free-exercise cases to establish a standard to evaluate hybrid claims. The article applies that standard to the Martinez case, refutes critics of hybrid rights, and recommends a strategy for religious liberty plaintiffs to employ the standard in order for courts to affirmatively develop it.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Free Exercise, Employment Division v. Smith, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, religious exercise, religious liberty, religion, Cantwell v. Connecticut, Wisconsin v. Yoder, Murdock v. Pennsylvania, Justice Souter

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Date posted: November 3, 2011 ; Last revised: November 24, 2011

Suggested Citation

Haun, William J., A Standard for Salvation: Evaluating 'Hybrid Rights' Free-Exercise Claims (November 1, 2011). Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 1, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1952601 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1952601

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Will Haun (Contact Author)
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