"US Supreme Court West Facade" by Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Supreme Court will soon weigh in on who counts as a minister. Its answer could change religious freedom law forever

May 12, 2020

By Kelsey Dallas

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear its final religious freedom case of the current term. According to some legal scholars, it saved the most significant for last.

On its surface, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, which was consolidated with St. James School v. Biel, seems to pose a basic question. The justices will decide whether two Catholic school teachers performed enough religious duties to count as ministers under anti-discrimination law.

If the answer is yes, the schools will be protected from the former teachers’ age and health-related discrimination claims. Courts aren’t allowed to weigh in on disputes between religious organizations and their ministers.

If the Supreme Court says the teachers are just teachers, the schools could face penalties. They could also be vulnerable to more employment discrimination lawsuits in the future.

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