Wednesday, June 13, 2012

North Dakota Voters Defeat Religious Freedom Restoration Amendment

Voters in North Dakota yesterday soundly defeated Initiated Constitutional Measure No. 3 that would have placed a broad version of state religious freedom restoration laws in the state's constitution.  With all votes counted, the results were 107,680 (64.04%) No; and 60,465 (35.96%) Yes. (Official results).

The proposed constitutional amendment provided:
Government may not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
As reported by the Dickinson (ND) Press, opponents of the measure argued that the amendment was vaguely worded, unnecessary, and might allow freedom of religion to be used as a defense in criminal cases.