Comparisons of RFRA to Jim Crow — see this lazy, partisan and clueless one by Ron Fournier are not only ahistorical, but also racist, as they deliberately underplay the real sufferings of black people under Jim Crow by comparing them to, say, someone who has to shop elsewhere for a wedding pizza. Here are some thoughts on that from Julian Sanchez, and here is a rather understated example from the Supreme Court’s Heart of Atlanta Motel case:
Negroes in particular have been the subject of discrimination in transient accommodations, having to travel great distances [p253] to secure the same; that often they have been unable to obtain accommodations, and have had to call upon friends to put them up overnight, S.Rep. No. 872, supra, at 14-22, and that these conditions had become so acute as to require the listing of available lodging for Negroes in a special guidebook which was itself “dramatic testimony to the difficulties” Negroes encounter in travel. Senate Commerce Committee Hearings, supra, at 692-694. These exclusionary practices were found to be nationwide, the Under Secretary of Commerce testifying that there is “no question that this discrimination in the North still exists to a large degree” and in the West and Midwest as well. Id. at 735, 744. This testimony indicated a qualitative, as well as quantitative, effect on interstate travel by Negroes. The former was the obvious impairment of the Negro traveler’s pleasure and convenience that resulted when he continually was uncertain of finding lodging. As for the latter, there was evidence that this uncertainty stemming from racial discrimination had the effect of discouraging travel on the part of a substantial portion of the Negro community.
RFRAs, at the federal or state level, do nothing like this. The comparison is odious, and reflects very poorly upon those making it.