Supreme Court Rules Catholic Schools Can Dismiss Teachers for Religious Reasons

A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. | REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Supreme Court has ruled that two Catholic schools were within their rights to dismiss two teachers on the basis of classifying them as “ministers” rather than secular professionals.

In a decision released Wednesday morning, the high court ruled 7-2 that two California-based Catholic schools can classify their teachers as ministers and not be held by the standards of state antidiscrimination laws.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court, being joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.

Alito cited the 2012 Supreme Court decision Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, in which the court ruled unanimously that antidiscrimination laws do not apply to religious employment decisions.

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” wrote Alito.

“Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored a dissenting opinion, being joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in which she argued that the decision “strips thousands of schoolteachers of their legal protections.”

“… the Court’s apparent deference here threatens to make nearly anyone whom the schools might hire ‘ministers’ unprotected from discrimination in the hiring process,” wrote Sotomayor.

Agnes Deirdre Morrissey-Berru sued Our Lady of Guadalupe School of Hermosa Beach under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, claiming age discrimination.

Our Lady of Guadalupe argued that Morrissey-Berru was let go due to poor performance and because of a new rating system implemented that featured the teachers becoming catechists.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski