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|Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division|
|Argued October 7, 1980|
Decided October 6, 1981
|Full case name||Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division et al.|
|Citations||450 U.S. 707 ( more )|
|Prior||Decision of the State Employment Security Review Board reversed, 381 N.E.2d 888 (Ind. Ct. App. 1978); reversed, 271 Ind. 233, 391 N.E.2d 1127 (1979); cert. granted, 444 U.S. 1070(1980).|
|"The State's denial of unemployment compensation benefits to petitioner violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion..."|
|Majority||Burger, joined by Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Powell, Stevens; Blackmun (Parts I, II, III)|
|Concurrence||Blackmun (concurring in part and concurring in the result)|
|U.S. Const. amend. I|
Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division, 450 U.S. 707 (1981), was a casein which the Supreme Court of the United States held that Indiana's denial of unemployment compensation benefits to petitioner violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, under Sherbert v. Verner (1963).
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state court cases that involve a point of federal law, and original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, including suits between two or more states and those involving ambassadors. The Court holds the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the U.S. Constitution. It is also able to strike down presidential directives for violating either the Constitution or statutory law. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide non-justiciable political questions.
Indiana is a U.S. state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th-largest by area and the 17th-most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.
Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment required the government to demonstrate both a compelling interest and that the law in question was narrowly tailored before it denied unemployment compensation to someone who was fired because her job requirements substantially conflicted with her religion.
Thomas, a Jehovah's Witness, was initially hired to work in his employer's roll foundry, which fabricated sheet steel for a variety of industrial uses, but when the foundry was closed, he was transferred to a department that fabricated turrets for military tanks. Since all of the employer's remaining departments were engaged directly in the production of weapons, petitioner asked to be laid off. When that request was denied, he quit, asserting that his religious beliefs prevented him from participating in the production of weapons. He was denied unemployment compensation benefits under the Indiana Employment Security Act.
A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal into a mold, and removing the mold material after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminium and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronze, brass, steel, magnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed.
In architecture, a turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification. As their military use faded, turrets were used for decorative purposes, as in the Scottish baronial style.
At an administrative hearing, Thomas testified that he believed that contributing to the production of arms violated his religion, but he could, in good conscience, engage indirectly in the production of materials that might be used ultimately to fabricate arms. The hearing referee found that petitioner had terminated his employment because of his religious convictions but held that petitioner was not entitled to benefits because his voluntary termination was not based upon a "good cause [arising] in connection with [his] work," as required by the Indiana statute.
The Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division affirmed, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Indiana statute, as applied, improperly burdened petitioner's right to the free exercise of his religion. The Indiana Supreme Court vacated on petitioner's free exercise right, the burden justified by legitimate state interests.
The Indiana Court of Appeals is the intermediate-level appellate court for the state of Indiana. It is the successor to the Indiana Appellate Court.
The majority held that Indiana's denial of unemployment compensation violated Thomas' right to free exercise of religion.
Chief Justice Burger delivered the opinion of the Court and was joined by Justices Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, and Stevens. Justice Blackmun filed a statement concurring in part and in the result.
Justice Rehnquist filed a dissenting opinion.
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