On June 29, 1993, Connecticut became the first state to pass a new law protective of religious freedom, entitled An Act Concerning Religious Freedom, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith in 1990. This paper, which traces the legislative history of the law, has three objectives. The first is to identify and analyze the legal and policy concerns that prompted Connecticut legislators to first introduce a religious freedom restoration bill in 1991 and then pass a very similar version of the 1991 bill in 1993. Second, it will scrutinize public hearing and written testimony as well as House and Senate floor debate in order to understand the legal, moral, and policy questions that were foremost in the minds of Connecticut legislators and the witnesses who provided testimony at the time. Finally, it will consider the reasons why a debate about religious freedom that today is politically polarizing not only provoked little controversy at the time but also took place largely outside of public view.
Fulco, Adrienne, "Under the Radar: Connecticut’s First-in-the-Nation State Religious Freedom Law" (2018). Connecticut Law Review. 393.