North Dakota voters overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to their constitution that would have established the standards of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in that state, as many other states have done. The margin was almost 2-1 against it, which I find surprising. Here’s what the amendment said:
Government may not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
This is pretty much identical to the RFRA, which applies only at the federal level, and to similar laws in 27 other states. And the language is straight out of the Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny standard. I’m really quite surprised it was rejected, especially by such a wide margin. The problem I have with it is that it singles out religious beliefs. I think all laws should be subject to strict scrutiny by the courts. Every individual should be free to do what they want unless the government can show a compelling state interest in stopping them from doing so. That’s how you make the 9th Amendment mean something.