MONTGOMERY, AL — The Foundation for Moral Law, an Alabama-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of religious liberty and the strict interpretation of the Constitution as intended by its Framers, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on February 6, 2020, supporting the right of two schools to dismiss teachers whose duties included the teaching of religion.
Our Lady of Guadalupe School and St. James School, Catholic schools in California, did not renew the contracts of Agnes Morrissey-Berru and Kristen Biel, and the teachers filed lawsuits alleging discrimination.
Two federal district courts ruled that because Morrissey-Berru and Biel taught religion courses as well as secular courses, they were not covered by federal anti-discrimination laws. But the Ninth Circuit reversed. Although in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC that churches are entitled to a “ministerial exception” from discrimination laws in the hiring and firing of ministers, the Ninth Circuit said the teachers at Guadalupe and St. James did not have ministerial qualifications and functions comparable to those of the Hosanna-Tabor teacher.
The schools petitioned to the Supreme Court, and the High Court granted certiorari, agreeing to consider the case.
Religious liberty is a gift of God, and government should not interfere with what we believe or how we conduct our churches. Churches must be free to hire and fire their personnel without government interference.
Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe added, “When courts usurp the right to determine who is and is not a church minister, they entangle themselves in complex questions of church doctrine, church tradition, and church polity. The First Amendment was adopted to prevent this type of church/state entanglement. The Foundation has asked the Court to rule that the First Amendment prohibits the state from regulating the employment decisions of churches.”
CONTACT: John Eidsmoe, 334-262-1245, firstname.lastname@example.org
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