Two Supreme Court decisions – Part 3
December 23, 2016
In the late 1980s, Oregon residents Alfred Smith and Galen Black were dismissed from their jobs because they had used peyote during religious services in the Native American Church.
When they filed claims with the state seeking unemployment compensation, the Oregon Department of Human Resources denied their requests.
The agency reasoned that since peyote was illegal in the state, the men had been rightfully fired for “misconduct.”
But the Oregon supreme court sided with Smith and Black, arguing that to punish them was to deny their constitutional right to freedom of religion.