An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

Adeil Sherbert’s employer told her to work on Saturdays. Sherbert, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, declined that assignment because of her religious beliefs. She celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday. As a result, Sherbert was fired. South Carolina then denied her unemployment benefits because she was unwilling to work on Saturday. Sherbert’s attorney explained her position to the Court: “She was willing to work and able to work, in any mill or in any other industry, so long as the job was a decent job, and so long as it did not require her to work on her Sabbath.”

The Court ruled for Sherbert by a 7-2 vote. Justice Brennan wrote the majority opinion.

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