Sherbert v. Verner case brief summary
374 U.S. 398 (1963)
Appellant unemployment compensation
claimant challenged a judgment of the Supreme Court of South
Carolina, which held that appellee employment commission's denial of
unemployment benefits to the claimant did not infringe her
constitutional liberties, as the state statute placed no restriction
upon her freedom of religion nor did it prevent her from observing
her religious beliefs.
CASE FACTS Appellant claimant lost her job after
she declined to work on Saturdays because her religion forbade it.
Unable to find other work for the same reason, she applied for
unemployment benefits. Appellee employment commission declined to
extend benefits, finding that her religious restriction disqualified
her. The courts below affirmed the findings, but the Supreme Court
reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
The Court found that the disqualification of benefits imposed a
burden on the free exercise of the claimant's religion because the
ruling put pressure on her to forego her practice in order to accept
work, or to forfeit benefits by following her religion.
effectively penalized the free exercise of her constitutional
The Court also noted that a South Carolina statute
exempted Sunday worshippers from having to make that same choice.
Court found no compelling state interest for enforcing the
substantial infringement because there was no abuse or danger that
justified the infringement, and a mere showing of a rational
relationship to a colorable state interest was
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the judgment that determined that
the claimant was ineligible for unemployment benefits. The case was
remanded for further proceedings. Suggested law school course materials, hornbooks, and guides for Constitutional Law
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