Supreme Court Ruling Handed Down On Hiring And Firing At Religious Workplaces

01.12.12 | Sarah Harnisch

   There has been a landmark ruling out of the U.S. Supreme Court on workplace discrimination in churches. In a 9 to 0 vote, the justices agreed that churches need to have the freedom to control their workforce. Matt Staver with the Liberty Counsel says "this is a great decision by the United States Supreme Court, and it's also amazing because it's a unanimous decision. It confirms the religious liberty of churches."
  Luke Goodrich, Senior Attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, says "the High Court confirmed that churches have the right to choose their leaders without the government looking over their shoulder."
    The ruling means churches, ministries, or any non-profit faith based group is no longer subject to federal discrimination laws. The case stemmed from a teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Missouri, who was fired. Goodrich says the teacher had clearly violated the church's religious doctrine, and her lawsuit was seeking to use the power of the state to force the church to keep her on as an employee.
     In his brief, Chief Justice John Roberts said churches must be free to choose who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission. The decision is a major victory for a broad range of national religious denominations. They argued in court that this was a threat to their First Amendment rights. The ruling will have concrete consequences for tens of thousands of people employed by faith-based groups across the nation.