When there is a conflict between two federal statutes, the more recent statute overrides the past statute. However, courts have used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to preempt federal laws passed after it. Normally that is the role of constitutional provisions, not statutes. RFRA has been subject to much constitutional criticism, but its attempt to control subsequent federal law has drawn little attention. Courts use RFRA to trump subsequent federal statutes without second thought. This Essay draws on legislative entrenchment doctrine to argue that this feature of RFRA is unconstitutional. RFRA should be used to strike down prior laws that violate its commandments, but it cannot bind the hands of future Congresses.
RFRA as Legislative Entrenchment,
2017 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol2017/iss1/2