Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah

Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah
Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued November 4, 1992
Decided June 11, 1993
Full case name Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. and Ernesto Pichardo v. City of Hialeah
Prior history Church of Lukumi v. City of Hialeah, 936 F.2d 586 (11th Cir. 1991)
The states cannot restrict religiously-mandated ritual slaughter of animals, regardless of the purpose of the slaughter.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Kennedy (Parts I, III, IV), joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas
Majority Kennedy (II-B), joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Scalia, Thomas
Majority Kennedy (Parts II-A-1, II-A-3), joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia, Thomas
Concurrence Kennedy (Part II-A-2), joined by Stevens
Concurrence Scalia (in part and judgment), joined by Rehnquist, Souter
Concurrence Blackmun (in judgment), joined by O'Connor
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Free Exercise Clause, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, City of Hialeah Ordinances 87-52, 87-71, 87-72

Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held an ordinance passed in Hialeah, Florida that forbade the "unnecessar[y]" killing of "an animal in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption." as unconstitutional. The law was enacted soon after the city council of Hialeah learned that the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, which practiced Santería, was planning on locating there. Santeria is a religion practiced in the Americas by the descendants of Africans; many of its rituals involve animal sacrifice. The church filed a lawsuit in United States district court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking for the Hialeah ordinance to be declared unconstitutional.

Adhering to Employment Division v. Smith, the lower courts deemed the law to have a legitimate and rational government purpose and therefore upheld the enactment. The Supreme Court, however, held that the ordinances were neither neutral nor generally applicable: rather, they applied exclusively to the church. Because the law was targeted at Santería, the Court held, it was not subject to an undemanding rational basis test. Rather, the nature of the case was held to mandate a standard of strict scrutiny: state action had to be justified by a compelling governmental interest, and be narrowly tailored to advance that interest. Because the ordinance suppressed more religious conduct than was necessary to achieve its stated ends, it was deemed unconstitutional.


See also


  1. ^ 508 U.S. 520 Full text of the opinion courtesy of

Further reading

  • Carter, Stephen L. (1993). "The Resurrection of Religious Freedom?". Harvard Law Review 107: 118. 
  • Doheny, Shannon L. (2006). "Free Exercise Does Not Protect Animal Sacrifice: The Misconception of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah and Constitutional Solutions for Stopping Animal Sacrifice". Journal of Animal Law 2: 121. 
  • O'Brien, David M. (2004). Animal sacrifice and religious freedom: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0700613021. 
  • Palmie, Stephan. “Whose centre, whose margin? Notes towards an archaeology of US Supreme Court Case 91-948, 1993 Church of the Lukumi vs. City of Hialeah, South Florida,” in Inside and outside the law: anthropological studies of authority and ambiguity, ed. Olivia Harris (Routledge, 1996).

External links

  • Text of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993) is available from: Justia · Cornell

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