The Religious Freedom Restoration Act at Thirty

West Side of the US Capitol by Martin Falbisoner (CC BY-SA 3.0).

An online symposium and essay series sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory (CSLR) and Canopy Forum, featuring scholars, experts and practitioners who will examine various aspects of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Now accepting submissions. Registration details coming soon.

The Center for the Study of Law and Religion and Canopy Forum are inviting contributions to “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act at Thirty,” an essay series and accompanying online symposium to take place on Thursday, October 19, 9:00am-5:00pm EST.

Thirty years ago this November, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA was birthed from a popular bipartisan effort in Congress to respond to Employment Division v. Smith, a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld as constitutional under the Free Exercise Clause facially neutral and generally applicable laws. Soon after its enactment, RFRA’s scope came under dispute. Today, the contours of the federal statute—and its state law progeny—continue to be a source of litigation and scholarly discussion. This one-day symposium will look back at RFRA’s origins and evolution and look forward to its new frontiers.

We invite essay contributions that:

  • Shed light on the circumstances surrounding the passage of RFRA, including (but not limited to) the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, civic activity for and against RFRA’s adoption, and Congressional debates about the proposed legislation; 
  • Discuss the evolution of RFRA and its scope, including (but not limited to), U.S. Supreme Court decisions interpreting RFRA, conceptions of RFRA as a “super statute,” legislative and executive responses to RFRA, and efforts to pass state RFRAs;
  • Examine the impact of RFRA on different areas of law, public policy, and/or jurisdictions, including (but not limited to) First Amendment (Free Exercise and/or Establishment Clause) jurisprudence, healthcare, employment, administrative law, international law, and influence on the laws of other nation-states, among others; and
  • Offer any additional scholarly insights into RFRA’s past, present, and future.

We are accepting submissions until September 25th. If selected, essays will be published as part of this series on Canopy Forum ( In addition, some contributors will be invited to participate in panel discussions during the symposium to take place on October 19, 2023. Please indicate in your submission that you are responding to this call for papers, and whether or not you would like to be considered for participation in the accompanying symposium. Submit your essay at♦