Sunday, December 09, 2012

DNA Testing For Immigration Purposes Is Neutral Rule of General Applicability In Free Exercise Claim

In S. T. v. Napolitano, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172658 (SD TX, Dec. 5, 2012), a Texas federal district court held that there is no 1st Amendment free exercise problem with denial of plaintiff's certificate of citizenship, passport and related documents.  S.T.'s parents-- both American citizens-- practice the Swaminarayan religion. They believe they are required to follow their swami's religious instruction to never subject S.T., as a gift from a divine source, to medical testing. U.S. officials refuse to certify S.T. as a child of American citizens born abroad without DNA testing to establish a blood relationship. The court rejected the claim that requiring DNA testing violates the 1st Amendment free exercise rights of S.T. and his parents, finding that the testing requirement is a neutral rule of general applicability. However the court and defendants agreed that plaintiff may assert his claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act