Autonomy of Religious Schools in Employment Upheld

Autonomy of Religious Schools in Employment Upheld
(AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the principle that religious schools have a constitutional right to decide who teaches their faith without government interference. The decision extends beyond religious schools to protect the First Amendment rights of churches, synagogues, faith-based charities, and other religious institutions.

In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel, the Court sided with two Catholic schools defending themselves against employment discrimination claims by their former teachers. The seven Justice majority opinion declared, “When a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith, judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.”

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