Sherbert v. Verner Case Brief

Facts of the case

Adeil Sherbert, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was fired from her job after she refused to work on Saturday, the Sabbath Day of her faith. The Employment Security Commission ruled that she could not receive unemployment benefits because her refusal to work on Saturday constituted a failure without good cause to accept available work. Under South Carolina law, employers were not allowed to require employees to work on Sunday.

Why is the case important?

The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) held that South Carolina may not constitutionally apply the eligibility provisions of its unemployment compensation scheme in order to deny unemployment benefits to a Seventh-Day Adventist because she refused to work on Saturday.

Question

The facial issue presented by this case is whether the unemployment scheme of South Carolina violated the Petitioner’s First Amendment Rights under the Free Exercise Clause.

ANSWER

Yes. Judgment of the highest state court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The consequences of such a disqualification to religious principles and practices may be only an indirect result of welfare legislation within the state’s general competence to enact. Here, not only is it apparent that Appellant’s declared ineligibility for benefits solely derives from the practice of her religion, but the pressure upon her to forego that practice is unmistakable. Governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against Appellant for her Saturday worship. Therefore, the disqualification for benefits imposes a burden on the free exercise of Appellant’s religion.
No. Judgment of the highest state court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The state’s asserted interest is no more than a possibility of the filing of fraudulent claims by people feigning religious objections to Saturday work. Here, no justifications underlie the determination of the state court that Appellant’s religion makes her ineligible to receive benefits. South Carolina may not constitutionally apply the eligibility provisions of its unemployment compensation scheme in order to deny unemployment benefits to a Seventh-Day Adventist because she refused to work on Saturday. Therefore, there are no compelling state interests that justify the substantial infringement of Appellant’s First Amendment constitutional right.

CONCLUSION

  • Advocates: –
  • Appellant: Sherbert
  • Appellee: Verner
  • DECIDED BY:Warren Court
  • Location: Beaumont Mills
Citation: 374 US 398 (1963)
Argued: Apr 24, 1963
Decided: Jun 17, 1963
Sherbert v. Verner Case Brief