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.
“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.”
Wasn't the entire point of the first amendment to stop crap like this? Your personal, religious beliefs are just that… yours and personal. This it literally cramming religion down someone's throat!
— Henrii (@Henrii15821760) July 8, 2020
I'm not mad at y'all for being religious. To each is own, do your thing. But the way people weaponize religion makes me sick to my stomach.
— cornroll kenny. (@indstryplantain) July 8, 2020
Too many religious interests interfering in legislative interests. Time to start taxing churches and religious organizations who feel a need to legislate.
— Donna wis (@DonnaWolff8) July 8, 2020
So #SCOTUS says religious businesses, churches, schools CAN discriminate and do not have to follow anti discrimination laws and they also don't have to provide contraception for you. https://t.co/86nQBQFGZL
— Resist & Desist #BLM (@ResistandDesist) July 8, 2020
Millions of workers may have just lost their ability to sue their employers for discrimination.
SCOTUS issued 2 truly horrifying rulings related to religious freedom this morning. One of them is for Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru. https://t.co/KT45rxeDjF
— (((Maggie Siddiqi))) (@MaggieM_S) July 8, 2020
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Top House Democrat Blasts ‘Yahoos in Texas’ and ‘Negligent’ Supreme Court Over Vigilante Abortion Ban
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Tuesday morning vowed to protect women’s reproductive rights, blasting the Republicans in Texas who enacted a vigilante law that effectively bans almost all abortion, and the conservatives on the Supreme Court who refused to stop them.
“Later on this week,” Rep. Jeffries said, discussing the House majority’s agenda, “we will pass legislation sponsored by Judy Chu, The Women’s Health Care Protection Act, to make it clear that women across America should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health care decisions. Shouldn’t be determined by a bunch of yahoos in Texas, and a negligent Supreme Court.”
Two Longtime Republican Operatives Indicted — and There’s a Russia Connection: Report
Reuters legal reporter Jan Wolfe revealed Monday evening that two Republican Party operatives have been indicted after helping Russians donate to political campaigns in 2016.
The Justice Department revealed in a statement that Kentucky’s Jesse Benton and Florida’s Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead were “charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, effect a conduit contribution, and cause false records to be filed with the FEC, one count of contribution by a foreign national, one count of contribution in the name of another and three counts of making false entries in an official record.”
Benton was just pardoned by former President Donald Trump for a bribery scandal while working for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Iowa in 2012. In that scheme, Benton and colleague John Tate bribed state officials to change their endorsements to Paul for the Iowa Caucus.
After being pardoned for that, Benton is now being indicted again along with Wead for arranging for a Russian National who wanted to donate to a 2016 presidential campaign to be able to meet with the candidate.
Developing: Two longtime GOP operatives have been indicted. They allegedly helped a Russian make a campaign contribution to Trump in 2016.
One of the defendants, Jesse Benton, managed campaigns for Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. He got a Trump pardon (for an unrelated scheme). pic.twitter.com/DWiTuJJsxa
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) September 20, 2021
“Benton reached out to individuals at Political Committee B, the national party committee for Political Candidate 1’s political party,” the indictment explains. “He then arranged for Foreign National 1 to attend a political fundraising event and get a photograph with Political Candidate 1, in exchange for a political contribution to Political Committee C, a joint fundraising committee comprised of the campaign committee for Political Candidate 1, Political Committee B, and related state committees. Foreign National 1 ultimately wired $100,000 to Company A, a political consulting firm owned by Benton.”
He then tried to disguise the wire transfer by labeling it “consulting services” and crafted a “cover story.”
Wead went to the fundraiser with the foreign national Sept. 22, 2016 with a translator (Foreign National 2). They all three had their photos taken with the candidate.
“Following the event, Benton repeatedly represented to a consultant working for Political Committee B and Political Committee C that he had already sent the promised contribution for the event, but in actuality he delayed sending the contribution,” said the DOJ. “Benton ultimately filled out a contributor form, indicated that he was the contributor, and used a personal credit card to make a $25,000 contribution. Benton retained the remaining $75,000 of Foreign National 1’s money. Because Benton falsely claimed to have given the contribution himself, three different political committees unwittingly filed reports with the FEC that inaccurately reported Benton, rather than Foreign National 1, as the source of the funds.”
Legal Experts and Critics Slam Justice Clarence Thomas for ‘Speaking Out Against Something He Is Actively Doing’
Critics are observing Constitution Day by responding to remarks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made on Thursday, when he blasted the media for criticizing decisions from the nation’s highest court and warning federal judges to not wade in to political discussions.
“When we begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble,” Justice Thomas said, CNN’s Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue reports, ironically observing that Justice Thomas made those remarks “during a sweeping lecture at the University of Notre Dame that also touched on themes of equality, race and the state of the country.”
The CNN report adds:
Of all the members of the high court, Thomas has made his views on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the US, crystal clear. In 2007, he said that he believed that Roe and the follow-up decision called Planned Parenthood v. Casey had “no basis in the Constitution.” And in 2020, he said that Roe is “grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding — that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child — finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Thomas also on Thursday “seemed to nod to the controversy” of “so-called court packing”:
“We have lost the capacity” as leaders “to not allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcomes that we like,” he said.
In rare public remarks, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a Notre Dame crowd, “I think the court was thought to be the least dangerous branch, and we may have become the most dangerous.” pic.twitter.com/EHK2pEGWdB
— The Recount (@therecount) September 17, 2021
Critics, including legal experts are weighing on on Justice Thomas’s remarks, blasting him for, as Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast says, “speaking out against something he is actively doing.”
Keith Boykin, a CNN political commentator who earned his law degree at Harvard and served in the Clinton White House was even more pointed:
“Clarence Thomas didn’t seem too worried about ‘destroying our institutions’ when he cast the deciding vote to make Bush president in 2000 or to gut the Voting Rights Act in 2013 or when he sat silently from 2017-2021 as Trump trashed our institutions.”
Dr. Miranda Yaver, a political science professor (US law, public policy, health policy) at Oberlin blasted Justice Thomas, saying that “claiming that the Supreme Court isn’t political is nonsense and we all know it. FWIW, whenever I teach Constitutional Law and students go, ‘Who in the hell would write that opinion??’ the answer is invariably Clarence Thomas.”
Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), laughed:
Clarence Thomas, whose rulings in key cases mysteriously always conform with his political and partisan preferences, says the justices do not make decisions based on politics. Hahahahaha https://t.co/Sxk1VVh0v2
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) September 17, 2021
VOX senior correspondent Ian Millhiser, author of “The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court is Reshaping America,” also criticizes Thomas’s apparent hypocrisy:
Clarence Thomas believes that federal child labor laws are unconstitutional. Literally the only thing this troll has ever done in his entire career is try to burn down institutions. https://t.co/aSYdkxrmd9
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) September 17, 2021
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