|The Roberts Court 2011|
(Back L to R) Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, Elena Kagan
(Front L to R) Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts,
Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
 Jesse J. Holland, GOPUSA: In a groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination.
But the court's unanimous decision in a case from Michigan did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government's protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can't.
It was, nevertheless, the first time the high court has acknowledged the existence of a "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination laws — a doctrine developed in lower court rulings. This doctrine says the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of such protective laws when the issue involves employees of these institutions. . . . [Read More]
 by Peter Johnson Jr., FoxNew: Wednesday the United States Supreme Court delivered a knockout blow to the White House in the cause of religious liberty.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a unanimous court swatted away the government’s claim that the Lutheran Church did not have the right to fire a “minister of religion” who, after six years of Lutheran religious training had been commissioned as a minister, upon election by her congregation. . . .
There was just one big problem standing in the way of the government's plan: the U.S. Constitution. For a long time American courts have recognized the existence of a "ministerial exemption" which keeps government’s hands off the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministers or clergy.
Here, in this case, the Department of Justice had the nerve to not only challenge the exemption’s application but also its very existence.
But, Chief Justice Roberts pushed back hard, telling the government essentially to butt out: “Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the free exercise clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.”
Citing well-known legal precedent dating as far back as Reconstruction, the court made it clear that it is not up to the government to contradict a faith’s determination as to who should -- and should not -- be performing religious functions. . . .
The Court also took aim at Plaintiff’s Cheryl Perich’s claims for back pay finding that such relief would operate as an unconstitutional penalty against a religious institution for terminating an unwanted minister and exercising its constitutional right to make decisions about internal church governance. Unfortunately, the federal government has become expert in imposing penalties for practicing one’s faith. . . . [Read More]
 More Info: Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC
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