In a case related to religious freedom, the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously sided with members of a small New Mexico sect in their bid to use hallucinogenic tea in religious rituals.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in his first such case, said the sect’s right to religious expression and practice supersedes federal drug control laws that were used to confiscate the tea, known as hoasca.
The Court’s ruling on February 21 also served as a strong endorsement of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires the government to show a “compelling interest” before it can limit religious freedom.
Roberts said the law gives courts the authority to “strike sensible balances” in weighing government regulation and religious expression. Religious groups had watched the case closely because, they said, it had wide implications for the right of all groups to practice their faith without risk of government interference.