Religious Land use and Institutionalized Persons
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
(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
(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 religious
(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 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'--
(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