Merced v. Kasson

Top 10 Case
Becket Role:
Counsel

Scoreboard

Decision:
Won
Decision Date:
July 31, 2009
Deciding Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Decision

Case Summary

Texas tried to stop Jose Merced, a Santeria priest, from performing certain religious rituals in his own home. Becket stepped in to protect him.

A unanimous panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Becket. The court said that city ordinances forbidding the slaughter of certain animals prevented the Santeria priest from performing ceremonies essential to his faith, thus causing a substantial burden on his religious exercise.

Although the government argued two reasons for forbidding the practice (public health and animal treatment), the court pointed out that the Santeria priest had conducted these rituals for 16 years without incident. The court said the government had other ways to protect public health and animal treatment without forbidding Mr. Merced from practicing his religion in his home. It was an important ruling under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, affirming the right to worship freely in one’s own home

Case Information

Becket Role:
Counsel
Case Start Date:
December 22, 2006
Current Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Original Court:
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
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