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Law Expanding Religious Liberty in Kentucky Gets Vetoed

(UPDATED) Lawmakers override veto of governor concerned that broad protections and vague wording would lead to legal issues.

Update (Mar. 27): Lawmakers voted yesterday to override the governor's veto.

Will the legal back and forth make any difference? As the Associated Press reports, "Wayne State University law professor Christopher Lund reviewed the effects of 16 state religious freedom laws, finding they've largely been unused and that people who did claim religious infringement in those states lost more often than they won."


Update (Mar. 26): Southern Baptist leaders in Kentucky are strongly protesting the veto and urge lawmakers to override it.


A religious freedom bill recently passed by the Kentucky state legislature received the stamp of disapproval from Gov. Steve Beshear.

Last Friday, Beshear vetoed Kentucky House Bill 279, which prevented the government from "substantially burdening" citizens' rights to "act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief."

According to Beshear, the vaguely worded protections outlined in the bill would cause more harm–and unnecessary litigation–than good.

"Imprecise legal standards lead to unforeseen consequences," Beshear said in a statement. "This bill, as written, while well intended, is undermined by precarious legal wording."

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that "advocates from the state's two largest religious denominations—Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists—have been supporting the bill." Yet, critics say its heightened protections are unnecessary since both federal and state constitutions already guarantee freedom of religion to all citizens.

The bill passed by overwhelming margins in both the House and Senate, which plans to override the veto, according to the Richmond Register.

Kentucky recently addressed religious freedom cases involving safety requirements for Amish buggies and placement of church billboards, the Courier-Journal wrote, and in both instances, the government was able to present a compelling interest that would require the religious plaintiffs to obey state laws.

CT previously has reported on the topic of religious freedom, as well as on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that prohibits the government from "substantially burdening" citizens' freedom of religion. In January, CT reported that most Americans are concerned over religious freedom, but can't agree on how to apply it.

Related Topics:Politics
Posted:March 25, 2013 at 11:04AM
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