In the Legislatures


The Center advances legislation protecting First Amendment rights by working with congressional colleagues and interested organizations to pass laws at both the state and federal level. The Center tracks legislation that threatens First Amendment rights and provides legal analysis and commentary on critical issues. As one example, the Center helped draft guidelines that formed the basis of the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance letter to school superintendents on religious expression in public schools. The Center also helped craft the White House’s guidelines protecting federal employees’ religious expression.

Federal Legislation

Equal Access Act of 1984, 20 U.S.C. §§ 4071-4074:The Center drafted federal law that has protected the right of millions of public secondary school students to meet for prayer and Bible study for over 25 years. Legislation (.pdf)

Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. §2000bb: The Center led a coalition of nearly 60 organizations fromacross the political and religious spectrum to protect Americans’ free exercise of religion from substantial burden by the government. Legislation (.pdf)

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc-1: The Center led a coalition to protect freedom of religion for churches threatened by onerous zoning restrictions. Legislation (.pdf)

State Legislation

The Center initiated the movement of state legislatures to pass Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.  Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have such laws.