14 January 2012

A Step in the Right Direction

The Supreme Court gets it half right:

In a groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination.
But the court's unanimous decision in a case from Michigan did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government's protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can't.
It was, nevertheless, the first time the high court has acknowledged the existence of a "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination laws — a doctrine developed in lower court rulings. This doctrine says the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of such protective laws when the issue involves employees of these institutions.

While it’s great that the Supreme Court recognizes that, in at least one instance, the federal government has no authority telling religious employers who they can and cannot hire or fire, it is troubling that the Supreme Court still fails to miss the broader problem.  Namely, the federal government has no authority to tell any employers who they can and cannot hire or fire.  (And no, the Commerce Clause does not give the federal government this authority).

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