Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah
508 U.S. 520 (1993)

  • LBA was a Santeria religion that practiced animal sacrifice. They opened a church in Hialeah, and started performing rituals.
  • In response, the city council passed an ordinance that prohibited animal sacrifice.
  • LBA sued, claiming that the ordinance was an unconstitutional infringement on their 1st Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
  • The Trial Court found for Hialeah. LBA appealed.
    • The Trial Court looked to Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (497 U.S. 872 (1990)), and found that Hialeah had compelling government interest in preventing animal cruelty.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed. LBA appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed and overturned the ordinance.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the ordinance was not neutral or generally applicable.
      • The Court found that the ordinance was not neutral and appeared to have been passed specifically to stop LBA.
      • The Court found that since the ordinance exempted killing animals for practically every other reason, it was underinclusive for the stated goal of preventing animal cruelty and so could not be considered generally applicable.
    • The Court found that, unlike in Smith, when a law is not neutral and generally applicable, the proper standard of review is strict scrutiny.
      • A law that meets the Smith Test is only required to pass a rational basis review.
  • The basic difference between this case and Smith was that Smith involved a law against illegal drugs and a religion that used drugs in their ceremonies. In that case the law was designed to fight illegal drugs in general, and only incidentally affected the religion. In this case, the anti-sacrifice ordinance was passed for the sole purpose of interfering with a religious practice.