Religious Liberty Not to Have a Social Security Number (Idaho Court of Appeals)

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Idaho Court of Appeals

On March 17, 2006, we filed a supplemental reply brief bringing to the attention of the Idaho Court of Appeals the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Gonzales v. UDV, in which Chief Justice John Roberts — writing for a unanimous court — construed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to provide very favorable protection to individual liberty of religious belief and practice.  In this brief we urged the Idaho Court of Appeals to give this same favorable interpretation to the Idaho Religious Freedom Restoration Act and reverse the trial court’s decision denying Mr. Lewis’s conscientious objection to having to disclose to the Idaho authorities the SSN that had been assigned to him in his youth and that he had later, because of religious conviction, disassociated himself therefrom.

On June 8, 2006, Herb Titus appeared before the Idaho Court of Appeals, for oral argument on behalf of Mr. Lewis.  Members of the court expressed concern that the Idaho statute protecting religious freedom conflicted with a federal statute (42 U.S.C. Section 666(13)) and the federal statute would prevail because of the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.  In response Mr. Titus explained why there was no conflict, and that the court of appeals was duty-bound to apply the state’s policy favoring liberty of religious conscience in Mr. Lewis’s favor.

The court of appeals took the case under advisement.  A decision is expected later this summer or early fall.

Link to brief