1428 Dead.

The Maine House today voted 89-52 to accept the Ought Not to Pass recomendation of the Judiciary Committee and ended this session's effort by Sen David Burns to implement his version of a "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" in our state. Thanks to those who took the time to contact their reps and made our voices heard.



Dick Springer's picture

It was again almost a straight party line vote.  Three Democrats supported LD 1428 and three Republicans opposed it,  All Independents opposed it.  I am old enough to remember the days before GOP stood for 'God's Own Party.'

Dick Springer's picture

Here is our letter's text (It had no effect);

Dear Representative Volk:                                    

We strongly urge you to vote ‘no’ on LD 1428, thereby supporting the decision of the Judiciary Committee, which voted 8-4 “ought not to pass” on the bill.  This measure would allow anyone asserting a religious objection, no matter how crazy or extreme, to be exempt from generally applicable laws and that would place the burden of proof in resulting legal cases on the government.

The bill would provide “that state action may not directly or indirectly burden a person’s free exercise of religion unless the state action is essential to furthering a compelling state interest and is accomplished through the least restrictive means.”  It would state that  “‘Exercise of religion’ includes, but is not limited to, the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

The Bangor Daily News notes that “complainants would simply have to assert that an apparent burden inhibits their ‘conduct or expression’ mandated by their ‘sincerely held religious tenet or belief’ to file a lawsuit against a state, county or municipal government. It would be up to the government to prove why it has an interest in ‘infringing’ on someone’s religious belief.”

LD 1428 would actually allow someone to sue if they merely expect their religious freedom to be burdened, without actually showing harm.  The fact that such laws have been enacted in a number of Bible belt states should not be an argument for such a law in Maine.  And we should note that a similar law in North Dakota was voted down in a popular referendum.

This law has no place on the Maine statute books.

                            Meredith N. Springer
                            Elinor M. Springer