<DOC> SOURCE: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov
Public Law 106-274
To protect religious liberty, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Sept. 22,
2000 - [S. 2869]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.>> assembled,
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc note.>> SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000''.
SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc.>> PROTECTION OF LAND USE AS RELIGIOUS
(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
(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
(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
(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 any
assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious
(3) Exclusions and limits.--No government shall impose or
implement a land use regulation that--
(A) totally excludes religious assemblies from a
(B) unreasonably limits religious assemblies,
institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc-1.>> 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;
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that
compelling governmental interest.
(b) Scope of Application.--This section applies in any case in
(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. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc-2.>> 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).
(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. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc-3.>> 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
(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
(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. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc-4.>> 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
(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
SEC. 8. <<NOTE: 42 USC 2000cc-5.>> 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
(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
(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
(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
Approved September 22, 2000.
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.