Supreme Court rules religious schools shielded from teachers’ employment discrimination claims where the employee served a religious function

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The Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision on Wednesday that civil courts cannot get involved in employment discrimination claims brought against religious organizations where the employee served a religious function.

The decision expanded on a previous ruling from 2012 which said that religious organizations have a “ministerial exception” from employment discrimination lawsuits, but it was unclear exactly who qualifies as a “minister.

“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,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

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