This month, the Federalist Society held its annual convention in Washington, D.C., where several of the judges being considered by President-Elect Donald Trump for a Supreme Court nomination had a chance to reflect on Justice Antonin Scalia’s legacy.
Justice Antonin Scalia
It would be wrong to deny that Scalia changed the American legal system. But he unfortunately also sacrificed religious liberty for a single instance of anti-drug law enforcement. The case of Employment Division v. Smith shows how Scalia’s principles buckled under the weight of his desire to enforce anti-drug laws, eventually leading to Obama’s attempted upheaval of religious liberty in Zubik v. Burwell.
Setting the Precedent
In Employment Division v. Smith, Alfred Smith and Galen Black, drug counselors and members of the Native American Church, were denied unemployment benefits after being fired for smoking peyote. The denial of benefits was further complicated by the question of religious freedom: peyote use is the spiritual centerpiece of the Native American Church.