Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Indiana Passes RFRA Law

The Indiana General Assembly yesterday gave final approval to Senate Bill 101, the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (full text).  The bill is broader than its Federal counterpart in several ways.  It explicitly protects the exercise of religion by entities as well as individuals.  Its enumeration of entities includes "a corporation", without limiting this to closely-held companies.  The bill's protections may be invoked when a person's exercise of religion is "likely" to be substantially burdened by government action, not just when it has been burdened.  The bill also permits the assertion of free exercise rights as a claim or defense in judicial or administrative proceedings even if the government is not a party to the proceedings. The relevant governmental entity has a right to intervene in such cases to respond to the RFRA claim. A remedy under the bill is only available against the government; suits by employees or applicants invoking the law against private employers are precluded.

In a statement (full text) after the bill passed yesterday, Governor Mike Pence said he strongly supports the bill and will sign it. Meanwhile, Gen Con, a major gaming convention held each year in Indianapolis, wrote the governor (full text) asking him to reconsider, saying that legislation that could lead to discrimination against its attendees will factor into its decision on whether to hold the convention in Indiana in future years.