The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a slew of massive rulings in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, the nation’s highest court delivered a 7-2 ruling to allow religious schools to fire religion teachers for any reason they wish.
The ruling is a major expansion of protections for religious institutions against nondiscrimination laws.
The case, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, concerned the so-called ministerial exception, which exempts certain religious institutions from nondiscrimination laws.
Liberals Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the only two justices who dissented.
The court held that “the independence of religious institutions in matters of ‘faith and doctrine’ is closely linked to independence in what the Court has termed ‘matters of church government.’”
Because of these reasons, the court found that in the interests of protecting the First Amendment, it should stay out of employment disputes. Alito wrote in his opinion that while the decision does not mean that churches and religious institutions are exempt from all secular laws, it is not the government’s place to intrude upon their “autonomy with respect to internal management decisions that are essential to the institution’s central mission.”
The case, a consolidation of several lawsuits, concerned whether or not Catholic parochial schools can hire or fire religion teachers at will, regardless of considerations such as age, race, or gender. The Supreme Court in 2012 provided a similar exception to churches for the employment of ministers. That case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ruled that any a church can fire any “minister” without regard to discrimination laws.
Our Lady of Guadalupe focused on whether that exception could be extended to people who teach religion as well. In his opinion, Alito wrote that while Wednesday’s decision was markedly similar to that in Hosanna-Tabor, he hoped it would make clear that a “minister” should not solely be regarded as someone who has that title in a church hierarchy.
What really mattered in the case, Alito wrote, was expressing the understanding that the “very core” of the mission of religious schools was to teach young people “to live their faith.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that he did not think it was appropriate for courts to be commenting on who does or does not qualify as a minister in intra-church disputes.
“What qualifies as ‘ministerial’ is an inherently theological question, and thus one that cannot be resolved by civil courts through legal analysis,” he wrote.
The Supreme Court delivered a massive ruling on Monday that is a major victory for those who support the Electoral College.
The Court delivered a unanimous decision that states can legally punish “faithless” electors — those who formally cast the votes for president of the United States but go against the majority of their state.
The unanimous 9-0 decision is a victory for states that worried about rogue electors could disrupt future elections.