Supreme Court Needs to Review Religious Employment Case
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year continued and increased the assault on people of faith in their decision on March 10th overturning a lower federal court judge's decision which had dismissed a frivolous lawsuit brought by a teacher against her former church-owned school. The federal district court judge dismissed the teacher's lawsuit based on "ministerial exception."
As the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says in its request last Friday to the United States Supreme Court that it review the 6th Circuit Court First Amendment-stifling decision: "The federal courts of appeals have long recognized the 'ministerial exception,' a First Amendment doctrine that bars most employment-related lawsuits brought against religious organizations by employees performing religious functions. The circuits are in complete agreement about the core applications of this doctrine to pastors, priests, and rabbis."
As the Becket Fund states regarding its request that the Supreme Court review the appeals court's decision: "
At issue in the case is the scope of the 'ministerial exception'—a First Amendment doctrine that protects the right of religious organizations to select employees who perform religious functions. The Becket Fund represents Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, a Lutheran church that operates a K-8 school founded on biblical principles.
"Teachers at the school are required to serve as Christian role models, integrate faith into all subjects, and lead students in prayer, worship, and religious study. In 2005, the church dismissed one of its teachers, Cheryl Perich, for insubordination and disruptive conduct in violation of church teaching. Ms. Perich then sued the church under the Americans with Disabilities Act, asking the court to reinstate her. The key question in the case is whether the government can compel the church to reinstate Ms. Perich, or whether the First Amendment instead protects the church’s right to select its religious teachers.
"'[The Supreme] Court has long recognized the right of religious organizations to control their internal affairs[,] . . . includ[ing] the right of religious organizations to select their own religious leaders,' says the Becket Fund’s petition. If this suit is allowed to go forward, '[a] jury will displace the duly constituted religious authorities and usurp control over who shall represent the faith to the next generation.'
The Supreme Court needs to weigh in on this consequential religious freedom case during their current term and settle this issue once and for all. This is a clear-cut constitutional case regarding First Amendment rights for religious institutions. The attack on people of faith in America needs to end, and a decision overturning the appeals court's onerous decision would be a very important ground-breaking one.