Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Supreme Court creates “ministerial exception” for religious institutions

In a landmark Supreme Court decision released yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the right of religious institutions to make hiring and firing decisions that would otherwise violate discrimination laws. This “ministerial exception” affirms a First Amendment right for religious institutions, including universities, to consider a person’s beliefs during employment decisions. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Although the case involved a lawsuit brought by a teacher who had been fired from a now-defunct religious elementary school, it was watched closely by many religious colleges, which had urged the court to safeguard their religious freedom, and advocates for the employees of such institutions, who had argued that a Supreme Court decision in favor of the school could leave colleges emboldened to cite the ministerial exception as a pretext for trampling employees’ rights.

The Supreme Court majority’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., made clear that the court was applying the ministerial exception only to employment-discrimination disputes. It said, “We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tortious conduct by their religious employers. There will be time enough to address the applicability of the exception to other circumstances if and when they arise.”

On the question of whether the ministerial exception applied to discrimination lawsuits, however, the justices were emphatic in stating their view that interfering with a church’s ability to hire or fire those it regards as ministers violates two clauses of the First Amendment: the free-exercise clause, which, they said, “protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments,” and the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such religious decisions.


Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.