Dear Friend –
The Governor is considering a VETO for House Bill 279 – The Religious Freedom Restoration Act! The General Assembly voted 82 to 7 in the House and 29 to 6 in the Senate to pass House Bill 279 in order to restore the “strict scrutiny” standard for the Commonwealth. This needed to happen this year because the Kentucky Supreme Court watered down the state’s judicial standard last Oct. 25 when it introduced “rational basis” – implying that government only needs “a reason” to infringe on religious liberties.
Please make the call listed below because the Governor will need encouragement — remember, this is the Governor who tried to change the state “Christmas Tree” to “Holiday Tree” in 2009. Read below to see how HB 279 is nothing more than the FEDERAL law applied to our state.
The groups asking the Governor to veto the bill are the ACLU and various Gay/Lesbian groups that push “sexual politics” over religious freedom. They’ve successfully seduced several Human Rights groups to jump on their band wagon.
Here is where YOU come in –YOU really could make the difference.
Call the Governor’s message line and leave this kind, but firm message with a secretary . . .
Call 502-564-2611 and say . . .
“Sign HB 279 - The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Call ASAP. The Governor’s Message Line is open Mon thru Fri from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM EST.
Please 1) make the call IMMEDIATELY; 2) Forward this email; 3) And use the attached Bulletin Insert this Sunday. (Print, make copies, cut in half.)
Yours, most sincerely,
The Family Foundation
HB 279 Language:Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
SECTION 1. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 446 IS CREATED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:Government shall not substantially burden a person's freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be substantially burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A "burden" shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
Why Kentucky needs Religious Freedom legislation now
In its Oct. 2, 2012 decision, KY Supreme Court chooses “rational basis,” placing the burden of proof on citizens instead of government.
Religious freedom as established in the First Amendment has been the long understood intent of America’s Founding Fathers. The Federal Supreme Court affirmed that guarantee in the early 20th century establishing “strict scrutiny” (i.e. “compelling interest/least restrictive means”) as the legal test government had to pass before it could restrict someone’s religious freedom.
In 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court changed direction establishing a “rational basis” test meaning government only needed “a reason” to restrict religious freedom. Congress responded by overwhelmingly passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requiring federal courts to once again use the “compelling interest/least restrictive means” test.
It was then up to the states to re-establish/reaffirm the “compelling interest/least restrictive means” standard for state and local courts. Twenty six states have acted in some measure to re-establish this test. Kentucky legislature has not.
Therefore, in its Oct. 25, 2012 decision, Zook et. al. and Gingerich et. al. vs. Commonwealth, the Kentucky Supreme Court made the decision for Kentucky, choosing the “rational basis” test for Commonwealth courts. In these cases, nine Amish men, after being fined and imprisoned for not displaying the requisite orange triangles on their vehicles, appealed to the court to allow an alternate method of identifying their vehicles which would insure public safety without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Writing the majority opinion, Justice Mary Noble acknowledged sections 1 and 5 of the Kentucky Constitution (“All men…have certain inherent and inalienable rights . . . [t]he right of worshipping God according to the dictates of their consciences.” and “No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”) However, Noble concluded that, “the statute is presumed constitutional unless there is no rational basis for it.” thus upholding the decision to restrict religious freedom.
In the dissenting opinion Justice Will T. Scott explained, “Employing a rational basis standard renders inconsequential Kentucky’s free exercise guarantee in that virtually any asserted government interest could justify laws . . . substantially burdening individuals’ religious liberty”.