Indiana's RFRA: Isn't it the same as the Federal RFRA?

One of the rebuttals to objection over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act is to say that this law is just like the Federal RFRA and similar to laws in other states. (The Indy Star even reported it as such.) The thing is, though, it's not the same-- but don't take my word for it. Let's ask thirty legal scholars what they think.

The state RFRA bills do not, in fact, mirror the language of the federal RFRA.


The definition of "person" under the proposed RFRA differs substantially from that contained in the federal RFRA, affording standing to assert religious liberty rights to a much broader class of entities than that currently recognized by federal law.


This parallel between support for the federal RFRA and the proposed state RFRA is misplaced. In fact, many members of the bipartisan coalition that supported the passage of the federal RFRA in 1993 now hold the view that the law has been interpreted and applied in ways they did not expect at the time they lent their endorsement to the law. As a result, the legislators who voted on RFRA have distanced themselves from their initial backing of the legislation.


It is our expert opinion that the proposals, if adopted, would amount to an over-correction in protecting important religious liberty rights, thereby destroying a well-established harmony struck in Indiana law between these important rights and other rights secured under the Indiana Constitution and statutes.

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