Employment Division v. Smith

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Employment Division v. Smith
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided April 17, 1990
Appealed from Oregon Supreme Court


A Native American Church practiced syncretism by combining Christianity and Native American religious practices.

Consumption of peyote, a psychoactive drug, was part of a religious ritual in a Native American church in Oregon.

Oregon in the 1980s didn't exempt peyote from the state's drug laws.

Smith (a native American) had been dismissed from his job for using peyote at a sacramental worship rite. He and another fellow co-worker were denied unemployment benefits for work misconduct.


Prohibiting a controlled substance such as peyote despite is ritual usage in a local religion doesn't violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.


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