Marci Hamilton, professor of public law at Yeshiva University, was the attorney for the city that opposed the church expansion. She’s become a leading critic of RFRA, and argues that the law was unconstitutional from the start. Now, she says, state lawmakers have turned the law into a tool for intentional discrimination.
“The original federal RFRA was misguided and a leap from prior First Amendment doctrine,” she wrote on her blog about the Indiana law, “but it was nothing like this new iteration in the conservative states.”
Lawmakers tinkering with the RFRA language in recent years have turned it into a political minefield, says J. Brent Walker, executive director for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which has supported RFRA laws since the 1990s. The 1993 version protected believers against the government. Some newer state versions also protect corporations, and can be used in civil lawsuits between individuals.
Walker says now it’s time to take a break, since RFRA’s reputation has taken such a hit.