Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Ministerial Exceptions

That is a pretty solid rebuke against the Obama's DOJ.

"When you’ve got two core First Amendment principles to guide you, even a big case can be an easy one.

In what may be its most significant religious liberty decision in two decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday for the first time recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, saying that churches and other religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference…

The administration had told the justices that their analysis of Ms. Perich’s case should be essentially the same whether she had been employed by a church, a labor union, a social club or any other group with free-association rights under the First Amendment. That position received withering criticism when the case was argued in October, and it was soundly rejected in Wednesday’s decision.

“That result is hard to square with the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “We cannot accept the remarkable view that the religion clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”

I recommend reading Walter Olson’s piece at Cato from October for background on the case, as his post drips with amazement that Obama’s DOJ would try to argue that religious orgs enjoy no extra freedom in their hiring practices under the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. His amazement was obviously shared: I can’t remember the last time a major decision on a hot-button issue went 9-0. What the DOJ could have done — and where this line of jurisprudence is clearly headed — is to quibble over who qualifies as a “minister” for the ministerial exception.

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