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Sherbert v. Verner

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Sherbert v. Verner (374 U.S. 398)[1] was a 1963 decision of the United States Supreme Court in which it was ruled that the denial of unemployment compensation benefits to a member of the Seventh Day Adventist religion who had refused to accept an employment offer which involved working on Saturday, the Sabbath Day of her religion, constituted an unconstitutional infringement on her freedom of religion.

In issuing the ruling, the Court established a fourfold test of religious claims advanced under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The four points were:

  1. the claimant was required to demonstrate that a sincerely held religious belief was involved;
  2. that his or her religious beliefs were burdened in some fashion by the government's actions;
  3. that the government could not demonstrate an overriding compelling state interest in its actions; and,
  4. that, even if such an overriding compelling state interest is involved, no less burdensome approach could be found to implement the state's interest.


  1. Sherbert v. Verner Complete text of the court decision.