1. "Supreme Court Recognizes 'Ministerial Exception' to Employment-Discrimination Laws 2. In a decision with major implications for church-affiliated colleges and their employees, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously held that the First Amendment precludes the application of federal employment-discrimination laws to religious institutions' personnel decisions involving workers with religious duties. 3. Wednesday's ruling, however, is the first in which the Supreme Court formally recognized the "ministerial exception" as legal doctrine. 4. The Supreme Court majority's opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., made clear that the court was applying the ministerial exception only to employment-discrimination disputes. 5. On the question of whether the ministerial exception applied to discrimination lawsuits, however, the justices were emphatic in stating their view that interfering with a church's ability to hire or fire those it regards as ministers violates two clauses of the First Amendment: the free-exercise clause, which, they said, "protects a religious group's right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments," and the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such religious decisions. 6. Their opinion noted that the First Amendment's authors had chafed against the English Crown's involvement in America's religious matters, and that the Supreme Court had touched upon religious organizations' freedom to choose their own ministers in cases involving attempts by the government to intervene in disputes over church property. 7. The court majority's ruling in the case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (No. 10-553), was cheered by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which had submitted an amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," brief urging the justices not to open the door to federal-court involvement in determining which employees of such institutions should be classified as ministerial. a. "We argued in our brief, and we believe on our campuses, that our faculty are essential to carrying out the religious mission" of religious colleges, said Shapri D. LoMaglio, director of government relations and executive programs for the council... "decision affirms the common-sense proposition that religious schools must be free to choose religion teachers based on religion, without interference from the state." 8. On the other side of the issue, more than 60 professors of law and religion at American higher-education institutions had submitted an amicus brief arguing that the recognition of a ministerial exception "has breathtaking implications for denying the civil rights of employees of religious schools and institutions," including the nation's roughly 900 religiously affiliated colleges and universities." Supreme Court Recognizes a 'Ministerial Exception' to Job-Discrimination Laws - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education 9. "This decision," he said in a statement, "makes resoundingly clear the historical and constitutional importance of keeping internal church affairs off limits to the government because whoever chooses the minister chooses the message." Supreme Court upholds "ministerial exception" in employment-bias laws - The Denver Post The suggestion here is that the courts are pushing back against an Obama administration seen to be hostile to religious freedom, specifically in passing a healthcare law that mandates abortion and contraception strategegies inimical to many religious doctrines. America is waking up to the excesses of big government.