In the News: US Supreme Court to hear cases affecting Catholic schools’ hiring policy


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The Supreme Court will examine procedures for staffing decisions made in faith-based schools 

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

A new religious-liberty case will come before the US Supreme Court in spring 2020, when the court will decide whether the “ministerial exception” for church schools can be upheld in job discrimination lawsuits against Catholic schools.

BecketLaw.org defines the ministerial exception:

[It is] a First Amendment right that allows religious schools to choose their own religion teachers. The ministerial exception protects all religious groups’ freedom to choose “ministerial” employees without interference from bureaucrats or courts. Most courts have ruled that ministerial employees are those employees who perform important religious functions, like instructing young children in the precepts of the Catholic faith.

Two cases were consolidated in the court’s decision to examine this issue: Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel. The schools in both cases are located in California and both are currently represented by Becket, a law group dedicated to defending religious liberty. According to BloombergLaw.com,

One case revolves around an Our Lady of Guadalupe School elementary teacher who sued for age discrimination and wrongful termination. In the other case, St. James School appealed a disability bias ruling in favor of a fifth-grade teacher who had cancer.

BecketLaw.org offers detailed information about each case:

The cases will be heard in late spring.

Catholic News Agency: SCOTUS to hear Catholic school religious freedom cases

A law professor from the University of Notre Dame evaluated the case in this LA Times article: Supreme Court will decide if religious freedom shields Catholic schools from teacher suits

Today’s Catholic Teacher will continue to update this article with informational coverage as it becomes available.

Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at CatholicMom.com and managing editor of Today’s Catholic Teacher.

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