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Big SCOTUS Win For Religious Liberty

Justice Samuel Alito, author of big religious liberty SCOTUS opinion delivered today (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Finally, some good news!:

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on Wednesday in favor of two religious schools that argued they should not have to face employment discrimination lawsuits brought by former teachers.

The case concerned the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws that protects religious employers from certain lawsuits brought by employees. It was brought by two Catholic schools in California that were hit with discrimination lawsuits by teachers whose employment was terminated.

“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,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

“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,” he wrote.

Alito’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

The buzz I’m hearing from some of my religious liberty lawyer friends is that today’s ruling is a big boost for David French’s theory that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch are trying to carve out a judicially imposed via media between gay rights and religious liberty.

I was delighted to see that in the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito cited The Benedict Option as grounds for stating how important religious schools are to people of faith:

It’s humbling to discover that one’s work has been cited by a Supreme Court majority in an important religious liberty defense case. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do my part to protect religious liberty and religious schools. If you haven’t yet read The Benedict Option, I hope you will re-consider. All the bad faith jibes that it’s nothing but “head for the hills” propaganda were implicitly knocked down by Justice Alito today. The arguments put forth in that book made a difference in the way SCOTUS ruled in an important case building a wall of protection around the communities of religious schools. If Justice Alito takes the book seriously, maybe you should too.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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