The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 2000

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PUBLIC LAW 106–274—SEPT. 22, 2000 114 STAT. 803

Public Law 106–274

106th Congress

An Act

To protect religious liberty, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of

the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Religious Land Use and Institutionalized

Persons Act of 2000’’.

SEC. 2. PROTECTION OF LAND USE AS RELIGIOUS EXERCISE.

(a) SUBSTANTIAL BURDENS .—

(1) GENERAL RULE .—No government shall impose or implement

a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial

burden on the religious exercise of a person, including

a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates

that imposition of the burden on that person,

assembly, or institution—

(A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental

interest; and

(B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that

compelling governmental interest.

(2) SCOPE OF APPLICATION .—This subsection applies in any

case in which—

(A) the substantial burden is imposed in a program

or activity that receives Federal financial assistance, even

if the burden results from a rule of general applicability;

(B) the substantial burden affects, or removal of that

substantial burden would affect, commerce with foreign

nations, among the several States, or with Indian tribes,

even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability;

or

(C) the substantial burden is imposed in the

implementation of a land use regulation or system of land

use regulations, under which a government makes, or has

in place formal or informal procedures or practices that

permit the government to make, individualized assessments

of the proposed uses for the property involved.

(b) DISCRIMINATION AND EXCLUSION .—

(1) EQUAL TERMS .—No government shall impose or implement

a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious

assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious

assembly or institution.

(2) NONDISCRIMINATION .—No government shall impose or

implement a land use regulation that discriminates against

42 USC 2000cc.

note.

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

Sept. 22, 2000

[S. 2869]

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114 STAT. 804 PUBLIC LAW 106–274—SEPT. 22, 2000

any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.

(3) EXCLUSIONS AND LIMITS .—No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that—

(A) totally excludes religious assemblies from a jurisdiction;

or

(B) unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions,

or structures within a jurisdiction.

SEC. 3. PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS EXERCISE OF INSTITUTIONALIZED

PERSONS.

(a) GENERAL RULE .—No government shall impose a substantial

burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined

to an institution, as defined in section 2 of the Civil Rights of

Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. 1997), even if the burden

results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government

demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person—

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;

and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling

governmental interest.

(b) SCOPE OF APPLICATION .—This section applies in any case

in which—

(1) the substantial burden is imposed in a program or

activity that receives Federal financial assistance; or

(2) the substantial burden affects, or removal of that

substantial burden would affect, commerce with foreign nations,

among the several States, or with Indian tribes.

SEC. 4. JUDICIAL RELIEF.

(a) CAUSE OF ACTION .—A person may assert a violation of

this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain

appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim

or defense under this section shall be governed by the general

rules of standing under article III of the Constitution.

(b) BURDEN OF PERSUASION .—If a plaintiff produces prima facie

evidence to support a claim alleging a violation of the Free Exercise

Clause or a violation of section 2, the government shall bear the

burden of persuasion on any element of the claim, except that

the plaintiff shall bear the burden of persuasion on whether the

law (including a regulation) or government practice that is challenged

by the claim substantially burdens the plaintiff’s exercise

of religion.

(c) FULL FAITH AND CREDIT .—Adjudication of a claim of a

violation of section 2 in a non-Federal forum shall not be entitled

to full faith and credit in a Federal court unless the claimant

had a full and fair adjudication of that claim in the non-Federal

forum.

(d) ATTORNEYS ’ FEES .—Section 722(b) of the Revised Statutes

(42 U.S.C. 1988(b)) is amended—

(1) by inserting ‘‘the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized

Persons Act of 2000,’’ after ‘‘Religious Freedom Restoration

Act of 1993,’’; and

(2) by striking the comma that follows a comma.

(e) PRISONERS .—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to

amend or repeal the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (including

provisions of law amended by that Act).

42 USC, 2000cc–2.

42 USC, 2000cc–1.

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PUBLIC LAW 106–274—SEPT. 22, 2000 114 STAT. 805

(f) AUTHORITY OF UNITED STATES TO ENFORCE THIS ACT .—

The United States may bring an action for injunctive or declaratory

relief to enforce compliance with this Act. Nothing in this subsection

shall be construed to deny, impair, or otherwise affect any right

or authority of the Attorney General, the United States, or any

agency, officer, or employee of the United States, acting under

any law other than this subsection, to institute or intervene in

any proceeding.

(g) LIMITATION .—If the only jurisdictional basis for applying

a provision of this Act is a claim that a substantial burden by

a government on religious exercise affects, or that removal of that

substantial burden would affect, commerce with foreign nations,

among the several States, or with Indian tribes, the provision

shall not apply if the government demonstrates that all substantial

burdens on, or the removal of all substantial burdens from, similar

religious exercise throughout the Nation would not lead in the

aggregate to a substantial effect on commerce with foreign nations,

among the several States, or with Indian tribes.

SEC. 5. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

(a) RELIGIOUS BELIEF UNAFFECTED .—Nothing in this Act shall

be construed to authorize any government to burden any religious

belief.

(b) RELIGIOUS EXERCISE NOT REGULATED .—Nothing in this Act

shall create any basis for restricting or burdening religious exercise

or for claims against a religious organization including any religiously

affiliated school or university, not acting under color of

law.

(c) CLAIMS TO FUNDING UNAFFECTED .—Nothing in this Act

shall create or preclude a right of any religious organization to

receive funding or other assistance from a government, or of any

person to receive government funding for a religious activity, but

this Act may require a government to incur expenses in its own

operations to avoid imposing a substantial burden on religious

exercise.

(d) OTHER AUTHORITY TO IMPOSE CONDITIONS ON FUNDING

UNAFFECTED .—Nothing in this Act shall—

(1) authorize a government to regulate or affect, directly

or indirectly, the activities or policies of a person other than

a government as a condition of receiving funding or other

assistance; or

(2) restrict any authority that may exist under other law

to so regulate or affect, except as provided in this Act.

(e) GOVERNMENTAL DISCRETION IN ALLEVIATING BURDENS ON

RELIGIOUS EXERCISE .—A government may avoid the preemptive

force of any provision of this Act by changing the policy or practice

that results in a substantial burden on religious exercise, by

retaining the policy or practice and exempting the substantially

burdened religious exercise, by providing exemptions from the policy

or practice for applications that substantially burden religious exercise,

or by any other means that eliminates the substantial burden.

(f) EFFECT ON OTHER LAW .—With respect to a claim brought

under this Act, proof that a substantial burden on a person’s religious

exercise affects, or removal of that burden would affect, commerce

with foreign nations, among the several States, or with

Indian tribes, shall not establish any inference or presumption

42 USC

2000cc–3.

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114 STAT. 806 PUBLIC LAW 106–274—SEPT. 22, 2000

that Congress intends that any religious exercise is, or is not,

subject to any law other than this Act.

(g) BROAD CONSTRUCTION .—This Act shall be construed in favor

of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent

permitted by the terms of this Act and the Constitution.

(h) NO PREEMPTION OR REPEAL .—Nothing in this Act shall

be construed to preempt State law, or repeal Federal law, that

is equally as protective of religious exercise as, or more protective

of religious exercise than, this Act.

(i) SEVERABILITY .—If any provision of this Act or of an amendment

made by this Act, or any application of such provision to

any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the

remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and

the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance

shall not be affected.

SEC. 6. ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE UNAFFECTED.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect, interpret,

or in any way address that portion of the first amendment to

the Constitution prohibiting laws respecting an establishment of

religion (referred to in this section as the ‘‘Establishment Clause’’).

Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent

permissible under the Establishment Clause, shall not constitute

a violation of this Act. In this section, the term ‘‘granting’’, used

with respect to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does

not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions.

SEC. 7. AMENDMENTS TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT.

(a) DEFINITIONS .—Section 5 of the Religious Freedom Restoration

Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb–2) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘‘a State, or a subdivision

of a State’’ and inserting ‘‘or of a covered entity’’;

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘‘term’’ and all that follows

through ‘‘includes’’ and inserting ‘‘term ‘covered entity’ means’’;

and

(3) in paragraph (4), by striking all after ‘‘means’’ and

inserting ‘‘religious exercise, as defined in section 8 of the

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.’’.

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT .—Section 6(a) of the Religious

Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb–3(a)) is

amended by striking ‘‘and State’’.

SEC. 8. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) CLAIMANT .—The term ‘‘claimant’’ means a person

raising a claim or defense under this Act.

(2) DEMONSTRATES .—The term ‘‘demonstrates’’ means

meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and

of persuasion.

(3) FREE EXERCISE CLAUSE .—The term ‘‘Free Exercise

Clause’’ means that portion of the first amendment to the

Constitution that proscribes laws prohibiting the free exercise

of religion.

(4) GOVERNMENT .—The term ‘‘government’’—

(A) means—

(i) a State, county, municipality, or other governmental

entity created under the authority of a State;

42 USC

2000cc–5.

42 USC

2000cc–4.

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PUBLIC LAW 106–274—SEPT. 22, 2000 114 STAT. 807

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY—S. 2869:

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 146 (2000):

July 27, considered and passed Senate and House.

WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 36 (2000):

Sept. 22, Presidential statement.

®

(ii) any branch, department, agency, instrumentality,

or official of an entity listed in clause (i); and

(iii) any other person acting under color of State

law; and

(B) for the purposes of sections 4(b) and 5, includes

the United States, a branch, department, agency,

instrumentality, or official of the United States, and any

other person acting under color of Federal law.

(5) LAND USE REGULATION .—The term ‘‘land use regulation’’

means a zoning or landmarking law, or the application of

such a law, that limits or restricts a claimant’s use or development

of land (including a structure affixed to land), if the

claimant has an ownership, leasehold, easement, servitude,

or other property interest in the regulated land or a contract

or option to acquire such an interest.

(6) PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY .—The term ‘‘program or activity’’

means all of the operations of any entity as described in paragraph

(1) or (2) of section 606 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

(42 U.S.C. 2000d–4a).

(7) RELIGIOUS EXERCISE .—

(A) IN GENERAL .—The term ‘‘religious exercise’’

includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled

by, or central to, a system of religious belief.

(B) RULE .—The use, building, or conversion of real

property for the purpose of religious exercise shall be

considered to be religious exercise of the person or entity

that uses or intends to use the property for that purpose.

Approved September 22, 2000.

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