The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was introduced in the House of Representatives by a young right-wing zealot named Rep. Chuck Schumer. It passed the House by a voice vote in the Democrat-controlled House on May 11, 1993. It passed the Senate by a vote of 97-3. It was then signed into law by President Clinton.

The key provision of RFRA at issue in Hobby Lobby provides, in part:

“Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

Arizona SB 1062, dubbed the “Religions Freedoms Restoration Act, provides in relevant part:

STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

These are IDENTICAL.

Could RFRA even be passed today?

In 1993, the Federal Religious Freedom Act garnered near universal support across the political aisle. In 2014, the Arizona Religious Freedom Act may erupt a powder keg. Note the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of RFRA as applied to the Federal Government.

By the way, this analysis applies similarly to the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. It passed the House by a vote of 342-67, passed the Senate by a vote of 85-14, and (two months before the election) President Clinton signed it into law.  It’s remarkable how much things have changed in two decades.

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