After No More Deaths Ruling, Could Religious Freedom Be Used in More Legal Cases?

By Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 12:46pm

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Scott Warren
Michel Marizco/KJZZ
Scott Warren hugs a supporter after the government announces it will seek to try him again on two felony counts on July 2, 2019.

A federal judge earlier this month reversed the convictions of four members of the humanitarian group No More Deaths. They had been fined and given probation for leaving food and water for undocumented migrants passing through the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. They also had gone in without a permit and driven on an unauthorized road.

The judge, though, decided the volunteers were acting in accordance with their "sincere religious beliefs," which are protected under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Similar arguments were also made, for example, in the so-called Hobby Lobby case, in which the company argued it shouldn’t have to provide contraceptive coverage as part of its health care plan.

Gregg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment Clinic at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law joined The Show me to talk about the religious freedom arguments in these and other cases, and how they may be made in the future.

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