Sherbert v. Verner


When it came to protecting the right to religous liberty, Sherbert v. Verner (1963) protected religion.

As outlined in the Sherbert case, these’s were the facts. Adell Sherbert (Plaintiff), a Seventh-Day Adventist, was denied unemployment benefits by South Carolina in 1963. That being said, Sherbert refused to work on Saturdays, which was the Seventh-Day Sabbath. Further, the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed the lower court decision to deny her benefits.

Before the US Supreme Court, Sherbert v. Vernor presented this issue: Did the Supreme Court of South Carolina violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments by denying unemployment compensation?

Now, here’s the rule of the Sherbert case: A state cannot use an unemployment compensation law to deny a person’s right to freedom of religion, which the First and Fourteenth Amendment guarantee.

Notably, this case was effected by Employment Division v. Smith in 1990. The Smith case said neutral laws of general applicability do not violate the First Amendment. Now, a law of general applicability is constitutional if it burden’s a person religious liberty.

In response to the Smith case, many states passed Religious Freedom And Restoration Acts (RFRA). These acts protected religious freedom at the state level. Moreover, these acts were passed in response to the Smith holding.

At the federal level, for the most part, RFRA remains constitutional. Congress cannot take away religious freedoms. However, the federal RFRA was partly over tured in City of Boerne v. Flores (1997).

Overall, in 1963, this case protected the right to religious freedom. Now, states cannot not deny unemployment benefits on the basis of religion. The Supreme Court gave Adell Sherbert her unemployment benefits.