Toward a Universal Standard: Free Exercise and the Sanctuary Movement

This Note will first look at the combination of circumstances and beliefs that compel members of the Sanctuary Movement to break the law. Second, it will examine current free exercise doctrine that may provide first amendment protection to Sanctuary workers, concluding that the cases reflect two parallel, yet incompatible, rationales. Following one line of cases, Sanctuary activity should be protected; following the other line, it should be condemned. Third, this Note will resolve the inconsistency of these rationales by proposing a new universal test for free exercise claims. Fourth, it will explore the details of recent cases involving Sanctuary workers who have raised free exercise defenses to prosecutions by the government. Finally, this Note will use the proposed standard to evaluate the claims of Sanctuary workers, concluding that courts should recognize an affirmative defense to prosecution for transporting and harboring illegal aliens.