ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Religious Freedom and US Constitution

Everywhere else the ambit of minorities' rights is being enlarged. In India the Sangh parivar challenges the very concept of minorities. IN the last few years a battle royal has waged between the United States Congress and the Supreme Court on the scope of the constitutional guarantee embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This is a curb on federal power, not the power of the states. In the wake of the Civil War was enacted in 1866 the famous 14th Amendment to curb the power of the states. It said inter alia that no state shall abridge the privileges of citizens of the United States ''nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" The Supreme Court so interpreted this as virtually to apply to the states the federal guarantees in the Bill of Rights as being implied in the concept of "due process of law". Section 5 of the 14th Amendment confers power on the Congress "to enforce, by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article''. It is this S 5 which proved the sticking point in the Supreme Court's ruling on June 25, 1997 in City of Boerne vs P F Ftores, archbishop of San Antonio. A majority of 6-3 held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 1993 (RFRA) exceeded Congress's power under S 5 of the 14th Amendment and was therefore void.

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