Fifth Circuit Holds Eagle Act Regulations May Violate RFRA

Here is the opinion.

An excerpt:

Appellants filed suit against the Department of the Interior (the
“Department”) seeking a declaration of rights that the Department’s enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (the “MBTA”) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the “Eagle Protection Act”) violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) because it prohibits American Indians who are not members of federally recognized tribes from possessing bald and golden eagle feathers. The district court granted the Department’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the Department’s implementation of the Eagle Protection Act was narrowly tailored to a compelling governmental interest. Because we find that the Department did not provide sufficient evidence that the policy of limiting permits for the possession of eagle feathers to members of federally recognized tribes survives the scrutiny required by RFRA, we REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment and REMAND for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Briefs here.

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