Uniao do Vegetal Back In Court

União do Vegetal was the petitioner in Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal (2006), a case in which the Supreme Court held that the federal government’s seizure of a hallucinogenic tea, hoasca, which was used by the petitioner as part of a religious ritual violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  In the process the Court clarified that RFRA did, in fact, continue to apply against the federal government (it held in City of Boerne v. Flores that it did not apply against the states).

In this complaint, União do Vegetal has now sued the municipality of Santa Fe, bringing claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Free Exercise Clause, among others, in response to Santa Fe’s denial of a permit to build a temple on land outside Santa Fe.  The allegation is that the permit was denied because neighbors of the proposed temple site objected on NIMBY grounds.  Of special interest (to me) is the fact that the plaintiff’s free exercise claim alleges unequal (non-neutral) application of the individual assessment exception in Employment Division v. Smith.  (h/t Eric Rassbach)

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