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SCOTUS Turns a Blind Eye to Religious Workplace Discrimination in New Ruling

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Teachers at religious schools in the U.S. have been dealt a major blow today after the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released a 7-2 ruling in their employers’ favor. Simply put: the ruling sides with court precedent that teachers at these institutions may not bring workplace discrimination complaints against their employers to court.

The two lawsuits were Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. They will not move forward due to the “ministerial exception” and court precedent, which has held the First Amendment protects religious institutions from some workplace discrimination complaints.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

“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,” Alito wrote. “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.”

Sotomayor argued, “That simplistic approach has no basis in law and strips thousands of school teachers of their legal protections.”

Lambda Legal Senior Counsel and Law and Policy Director Jennifer C. Pizer said after the ruling, “Today, the Supreme Court opened a veritable Pandora’s Box that threatens the continued employment and financial security of thousands of teachers at religiously affiliated schools. While there is no serious dispute that top authorities at churches and religious schools are free to select those who lead worship services or teach the tenets of their faith, it stretches the term ‘minister’ beyond recognition to also include those whose jobs or duties have little to do with propagation of the faith.”

The question was whether the fired teachers performed enough religious duties to be considered “ministers” and could be exempt from federal discrimination laws.

Pizer added, “Teachers of secular subjects are not clergy by any reasonable understanding of the word. They should not be deemed clergy simply to shield their employers from liability for wrongful workplace practices. The ministerial exemption especially should not apply to strip protections from teachers with secular roles at large educational institutions that serve the entire general public, regardless of whether those institutions have some sort of religious ties.”

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DHS Chief Chad Wolf and Deputy Ken Cuccinelli Invalidly Appointed by Trump – Ineligible to Serve: Top Watchdog Agency

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Dept. of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were not legally installed into the positions they have been serving, according to the federal government’s top watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports.

Republican political strategist Liz Mair says “this probably makes a ton that both have done while in these jobs unlawful.”

Immigration attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick:

Vice President, Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress:

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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Trump Calls for ‘A Certain Freedom’ to Wear Masks or Not – and Lies That Biden’s Coronavirus Policies Are ‘Anti-Scientific’

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President Donald Trump tried to contrast his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the deaths of nearly 170,000 Americans, against former Vice President Joe Biden, who has called for strong measures far earlier than Trump ever did.

On Thursday Biden called on the nation’s governors to issue across the board mask mandates. Trump, in a campaign speech delivered under the false pretense of a coronavirus news conference, attacked his Democratic rival, and falsely claimed Biden had called for a national mask mandate instituted by presidential decree.

Trump, who misuses the power of his office regularly, claimed he did not think a President has the power to mandate mask wearing (he or she does.)

“Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. Forty thousand lives, if people act responsibly,” former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, referring to scientific studies. “It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American.”

Trump offered a different take on mask-wearing, saying “maybe they’re great and maybe they’re good and maybe they’re not so good, but frankly, what do you have to lose?” and adding, “we want to have a certain freedom,” to wear or not masks, “that’s what we’re about.”

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Trump’s Postmaster General Removing Hundreds of Mail Sorting Machines – Before the Biggest Vote By Mail Election Ever: Report

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President Donald Trump’s Postmaster General is quietly removing mail sorting machines and has scheduled the removal of  hundreds more from USPS facilities across the country. The action, which is both unprecedented and unexplained, comes barely months before the 2020 November election, which begins in weeks when early voting starts in some states.

“In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has ‘ample capacity’ to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots,” VICE’s Motherboard reports. “Motherboard identified 19 mail sorting machines from five processing facilities across the U.S. that either have already been removed or are scheduled to be in the near future.”

That may not seem like a lot, and as Motherboard notes, “the Postal Service operates hundreds of distribution facilities around the country.”

But The Guardian’s voting rights reporter Sam Levine has posted what he reports is a letter and attached spreadsheets detailing where literally hundreds of USPS machines are slated to be removed, from where, and when.

NCRM examined the spreadsheets, which refer to the removal of a total of 671 mail sorting machines with names like Automated Flat Sorting Machine (AFSMs), and Delivery Bar Code Sorters (DBCSs).

These are used to sort mostly letter-sized, flat mail pieces – the exact kind that, say, voting ballots would be sent in.

The letter, which was sent to the President of the American Postal Workers Union, cites only the “reduction in letter and flat mail volume,” but does not say why the machines are being removed now. The schedule calls for all 671 machines to be removed by September 30, which in some states is when or just after early voting begins.

 

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