Major legal scholars send letter to Ariz. governor in support of SB 1062

Prominent law professors defend religious freedom bill, debunk myths
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Doug Napier

PHOENIX — Eleven prominent law professors from a wide variety of backgrounds sent a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Tuesday in support of SB 1062, a bill the state legislature recently passed to clarify Arizona’s 1999 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and bring it into conformity with federal law.

The legal scholars include both Republicans and Democrats and those who both oppose and support redefining marriage, but all of them believe the bill “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics,” their letter says.

“The government has no business telling its citizens what they can’t say or what they must say, and it must be prevented from punishing its citizens for their ideas and beliefs as has occurred to people in other states. That’s all SB 1062 is about,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Doug Napier.

“As these legal scholars rightly point out, the misrepresentations about the bill have been egregious,” Napier explained. “It has nothing to with refusing someone a sandwich. It has everything to do with making Arizona a safe place for people to freely live out their faith. The falsehoods need to be exposed for what they are.”

The letter to Gov. Brewer states, “Some of us are Republicans; some of us are Democrats. Some of us are religious; some of us are not. Some of us oppose same-sex marriage; some of us support it…. But all of us believe that many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.”

According to the letter, “The federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another twelve or thirteen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. These laws enact a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They say that before the government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification. That standard makes sense. We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason.”

“Arizona has had a RFRA for nearly fifteen years now; the federal government has had one since 1993…,” the letter adds. “So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons…. It resolves ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation elsewhere. It deserves your accurately informed consideration.”

The letter’s signers include Douglas Laycock, Mary Ann Glendon, Michael W. McConnell, Helen M. Alvaré, Thomas C. Berg, Carl H. Esbeck, Richard W. Garnett, Christopher C. Lund, Mark S. Scarberry, Gregory C. Sisk, and Robin Fretwell Wilson.

Alliance Defending Freedom testified about SB 1062 before Arizona legislative committees.
  • ADF commentary: “Setting the record straight on SB 1062” (East Valley Tribune, 2014-02-26)
  • Pronunciation guide: Napier (Nuh-PEER’)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
# # # | Ref. 44170