Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Destruction of Native American Burial Site Did Not Violate RFRA

In Slockish v U.S. Federal Highway Administration, (D OR, March 2, 2018), an Oregon federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a RFRA challenge to the destruction of sacred Native American burial grounds in widening a highway.  Relying on Supreme Court and 9th Circuit precedent, the court held:
As in Lyng and Navajo Nation, plaintiffs contend that the sacred site at issue, which is located on federal land, has been desecrated and destroyed. Yet, as in those cases, plaintiffs have not established that they are being coerced to act contrary to their religious beliefs under the threat of sanctions or that a governmental benefit is being conditioned upon conduct that would violate their religious beliefs. Without these critical elements, plaintiffs cannot establish a substantial burden under the RFRA.
Becket issued a press release announcing the decision.