Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Court's next huge Religion Clause case . . .

. . . might just have been teed up by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (thanks to Religion Clause blog):

Yesterday in Petruska v. Gannon University, (3d Cir., May 24, 2006), the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals expanded the ability of ministerial employees to bring Title VII employment discrimination cases against churches and religious institutions that employ them. In this case, Lynette Petruska, the first female chaplain at Gannon University, a diocesan college, claimed that she was demoted solely because she was a woman. The Court rejected the defendants' claims that the suit should be dismissed under the "ministerial exception" doctrine. It held that the First Amendment exempts religious institutions from Title VII when gender or other illegal discrimination is based on religious belief, religious doctrine or internal church regulations. But if a church discriminates for reasons unrelated to religion, the Constitution does not foreclose a Title VII suit. The court said, "we decline to turn the Free Exercise Clause into a license for the free exercise of discrimination unmoored from religious principle." Judge Smith dissented on this issue.

In holding as it did, the majority disagreed with six other circuits that have found the ministerial exception to be broader. Inside Higher Ed today reports on the case.

Wait and see . . .


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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