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

Supreme Court sides with Catholic schools in employment suit

Jul 8, 2020

By Jessica Gresko

The Supreme Court sided with two Catholic schools in a ruling Wednesday underscoring that certain employees of religious schools, hospitals and social service centers can’t sue for employment discrimination.

The high court’s ruling was 7-2, with two liberal justices joining the conservative majority for the schools. The justices had previously said in a unanimous 2012 decision that the Constitution prevents ministers from suing their churches for employment discrimination. The court said then that the required separation of church and state means that religious groups must be allowed to hire and fire individuals who serve as teachers or messengers of their faith, without court interference. But the court didn’t rigidly define who counts as a minister.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion Tuesday that allowing courts to consider workplace discrimination claims against the schools would interfere with the schools’ çonstitutionally guaranteed religious independence.

“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,” Alito wrote.

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