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Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah
Argued November 4, 1992
Decided June 11, 1993
Full case name Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. and Ernesto Pichardo v. City of Hialeah
Citations 508 U.S. 520 (more)
Prior history Church of Lukumi v. City of Hialeah, 936 F.2d 586 (11th Cir. 1991)
The states cannot restrict religiously-mandated ritual slaughter of animals, regardless of the purpose of the slaughter.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Kennedy (Parts I, III, IV), joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas
Majority Kennedy (II-B), joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Scalia, Thomas
Majority Kennedy (Parts II-A-1, II-A-3), joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia, Thomas
Concurrence Kennedy (Part II-A-2), joined by Stevens
Concurrence Scalia (in part and judgment), joined by Rehnquist, Souter
Concurrence Blackmun (in judgment), joined by O'Connor
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Free Exercise Clause, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, City of Hialeah Ordinances 87-52, 87-71, 87-72

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that an ordinance passed in Hialeah, Florida, forbidding the "unnecessar[y]" killing of "an animal in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption", was unconstitutional. The law was enacted soon after the city council of Hialeah learned that the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, which practiced Santería, a religion whose rituals sometimes demand animal sacrifice, was planning on locating there. The church filed a lawsuit in United States district court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking for the Hialeah ordinance to be declared unconstitutional.

Adhering to Employment Division v. Smith, the lower courts deemed the law to have a legitimate and rational government purpose and therefore upheld the enactment. The Supreme Court, however, held that the ordinances were neither neutral nor generally applicable: rather, they applied exclusively to the church. Because the law was targeted at Santería, the Court held, it was not subject to an undemanding rational basis test. Rather, the nature of the case was held to mandate a standard of strict scrutiny: state action had to be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and be narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Because the ordinance suppressed more religious conduct than was necessary to achieve its stated ends, it was deemed unconstitutional, with Justice Anthony Kennedy stating in the decision, “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection”.[2]

Somewhat similarly in 2009, a freedom of religion case related to animal sacrifice was taken to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Jose Merced, President Templo Yoruba Omo Orisha Texas, Inc., v. City of Euless.[3] The court ruled that the Merced case of the freedom of exercise of religion was meritorious and prevailing and that Merced was entitled under the Texas Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (TRFRA) to an injunction preventing the city of Euless, Texas from enforcing its ordinances that burdened his religious practices relating to the use of animals,[4] (see Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 110.005(a)(2)) without the court having to reach his claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.


  • See also 1
  • References 2
  • Further reading 3
  • External links 4

See also


  1. ^ 508 U.S. 520 Full text of the opinion courtesy of
  2. ^ "Criminal Law and Procedure By Daniel E. Hall - Cengage Learning, July 2008 - p. 266 [4]
  4. ^ [6]. Full text of the opinion courtesy of

Further reading

  • Carter, Stephen L. (1993), "The Resurrection of Religious Freedom?", Harvard Law Review, Vol. 107, p. 118.
  • Doheny, Shannon L. (2006). "Free Exercise Does Not Protect Animal Sacrifice: The Misconception of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah and Constitutional Solutions for Stopping Animal Sacrifice". Journal of Animal Law 2: 121. 
  • O'Brien, David M. (2004). Animal sacrifice and religious freedom: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.  
  • Palmie, Stephan. “Whose centre, whose margin? Notes towards an archaeology of US Supreme Court Case 91-948, 1993 Church of the Lukumi vs. City of Hialeah, South Florida,” in Inside and outside the law: anthropological studies of authority and ambiguity, ed. Olivia Harris (Routledge, 1996).

External links

  • Text of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993) is available from:  Cornell  Justia 
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