NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH – Higher Court Rulings 

 

 

CENTRO ESPIRITA BENEFICENTE UNIAO DO VEGETAL (UDV) v. UNITED STATES - Unanimous Ruling, November 1, 2005

 

“The Supreme Court heard oral arguments November 1, 2005, and issued its opinion February 21, 2006, finding that the Government failed to meet its burden under RFRA that barring the substance served a compelling government interest.”

 

“The court also disagreed with the government’s central argument that the uniform application of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not allow for exceptions for the substance in this case, as Native Americans  are given exceptions to use Peyote, another Schedule I substance

 

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STATE OF UTAH SUPREME COURT UNANIMOUS RULING, June 22, 2004 - State of Utah v. James W. Mooney, aka James W.B.E. Mooney, Linda T. Mooney, and Oklevueha Earthwalks Native American Church of Utah, Inc.,

 

“2 We therefore rule that the exemption is available to all members of the Native American Church

 

“We hold that the federal Religious Peyote Exemption found at 21 C.F.R. 1307.31 has been incorporated into the Utah Controlled Substances Act“ 

 

“On its face, the federal regulation does not restrict the exemption to members of federally recognized tribes. We therefore rule that the exemption is available to all members of the Native American Church

 

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UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE – Memorandum to the Drug Enforcement Administration – 12/07/2000  

 

“Our research has identified no religious organizations, other than the NAC, which would qualify for the exemption under these or similar procedural and substantive requirements.  It seems unlikely, therefore, that in practice the peyote exemption need be expanded beyond an exemption for the NAC.” 

 

“If, however, a group does appear which can establish that it is a bona fide religion in which the actual use of peyote is central to established religious beliefs, practices, dogmas, or rituals, your agency is obligated to accord it the exemption under the current statutory scheme.”

 

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UNITED STATES TENTH FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS UNANIMOUS RULING, May 10, 1990 – United States v Robert Boyll

 

“Nowhere is it even suggested that the exemption applies only to Indian members of the Native American Church.  Had the intention been to exclude non-Indian members, as the United States argues, the language of the exemption would have so clearly provided.  Indeed, the federal peyote exemption makes no reference whatsoever to a racial exclusion”  

 

“The District Court, Burciaga, Chief Judge, held that: (1) permitting Indians’ non-drug use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of Native American church, but prohibiting such use by non-Indians, would violate free exercise and equal protection clauses; (2) compelling interest test applied to free exercise challenge to prosecution of non-Indian member, and (3) prosecution would violate free exercise clause. Motions granted..“

 

 

 

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