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.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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 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
(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'--
(i) a State, county, municipality, or other governmental entity
created under the authority of a State;
(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).
(A) IN GENERAL- The term `religious exercise' includes any exercise of
religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of
(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