Would a ban on Kosher Slaughter Be Constitutional, and Valid Under RFRA?

February 27th, 2014

In Poland, according to an animal protection law, animals must be stunned with a stun-gun prior to slaughtering. The European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter permits EU member countries to exempt religious slaughter from the stunning requirement. However, the Polish Parliament voted against granting the exemption. However, such a slaughter would not satisfy the rules of Kosher, which proscribe a very specific manner to kill an animal in accordance with Jewish Law.  As a result, it is effectively illegal to make kosher meat in Poland. Unsurprisingly, several slaughterhouses are violating the law, and doing it anyway.

Would this law be permissible in the United States, both in terms of the First Amendment and RFRA (I’m not asking whether it would ever be passed). I don’t think this would automatically fall under Church of Lukumi Babalu, as such a law was actually intended to protect animals, and not to punish a specific religion. Would a state law eliminating the ability to produce kosher meat place a “substantial burden” on faith? I’m inclined to say yes, though I’m sure opponents would say that kosher meat could be imported from out of state.

As the United States grapples with the extent of the Religious Freedoms Restorations Act in cases like Hobby Lobby, I suspect the conflict between religious beliefs and the mandates of the state will continue to crashing into each other.

Cross-Posted at Law & Liberty