Geoffrey Fisher, Chief Justice John Roberts, Hosanna Taber discussed on The World and Everything In It
The eighteenth of May twenty twenty. Good morning to you. I'm Brian Basham. And NICK ANCHOR WILL. Hey Good morning to you. Big Bash so So week three for you hosting World Watch News in three each day. We're getting a lot of terrific responses from our readers and from our listeners who are becoming your reviewers and they are loving it as I think they should. How're you enjoying it though Brian? Why guys say I'm living to living doing it actually. We're just having a ton of fun each day working out what we're going to pack in that three minutes for you You know another part of like Nick. I like hear the stories of the families who are watching the show and they're telling us how they're talking about it as a family. Yeah it's fun to work on and it's fun to watch too. Listen if you haven't seen it you really need to. It's written at teenage level but it does appeal. I think to younger and older students even adults. Frankly so in today's transcript. We'll put a link to world watch news in three or if you can remember you can go straight to YouTube dot com slash world. Watch news and when you're there be sure to subscribe for free and you can watch it everyday. Yeah and by the way are longer ten minute daily program for students. That's actually GonNa have a little more breathing room in it and that's going allow us to tell some really cool more in depth stories for you from all over the world against go visit. World Watch Dot News and you can read up on all the details all right well. The Supreme Court wrapped up oral arguments last week. Not In the usual way. Of course the justices hashed out the final ten arguments of the term the phone and we will have all of those for you in the fullness of time now we have Mary record cloistered away. She is very busy very hard at work on. The legal docket podcast. That is still a few months away but she did take some time to prepare a report for you. On important religious liberty case heard last Monday at the Supreme Court. And today you will hear about that. Case AT ISSUE. Here is a legal doctrine known as the ministerial exception. What that does is allow religious employers. Some measure of protection from lawsuits by employees considered ministerial employees. Are Legal Affairs correspondent. Mary reicher takes it from here. That idea the idea of the ministerial exception is rooted in the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. You know the one that says Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof that includes personnel decisions within religious organizations mckays decided in the year two thousand twelve helped to clarify and strengthen the concept it's called Hosanna Taber and it involved in employment dispute between a Lutheran School and a teacher. Listen to Chief Justice John Roberts deliver part of that opinion the interest of society in Enforcing Employment Discrimination Laws is plainly important but so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs teach their faith and carry out their mission. When a minister who has been fired sues? Her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory. The First Amendment has struck the balanced for us. The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its wake. Our opinion is unanimous in other words the first amendment allows religious institutions to hire and fire ministers without government interference in Hosanna Taber. Several factors helped to broaden the definition of minister the distinction is hugely important because it protects religious employers ability to put the right people in the right places to carry out. Its religious mission. That's the ministerial exception. And Modern anti-discrimination law does not apply to it. Trouble is nobody defined. What a minister is in all circumstances for all time? And that's the crux of the problem in two consolidated cases before the Supreme Court now just as Samuel Alito would prefer to jettison the phrase ministerial exception altogether here he addresses lawyer. Geoffrey Fisher who argued. It's for the courts to decide. Who's administer and who isn't appreciate that. The very term minister treats different religions differently. It is a predominantly Christian Protestant term. And as you apply it to other religions if becomes is application becomes less and less queer. Here are the facts to Catholic schools in California. Each fired a schoolteacher. One of the teachers said it was for reasons of age and thus the firing was age discrimination the other said her school fired her because she had cancer and that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The schools denied those contentions. But no matter what the teachers fell under that ministerial exception meaning. The teachers could not sue the schools for discriminatory practices because they were de facto ministers for the schools. And that's how the schools lawyer Eric. Rosbach opened his case in this country is fatty not the province of judges juries or government officials to decide who ought to teach Catholic. Fifth graders that Jesus is the son of God or who teach Jewish preschoolers? What it means to say hear Israel the Lord Your God the Lord is one and I bought them. That is what these cases are about. Who controls who teaches the faith to school. Children that Justice Ruth Bader GINSBURG wondered. Just how broadly that should be applied. I would appreciate your answers. Could two questions? One is who among the religious schools employees not ministers? The second question is we do not have to be Catholic to be sixth grade teacher. Talking to Jewish teachers be a traffic minister. Rosbach replied that not. Every employee is a minister in a religious school but he got into some trouble. In this exchange with Justice Elena Kagan she listed hypotheticals in rapid fire and asked him to say if that person is a minister and therefore fits into the ministerial exception. Who was told to embody Jewish values and in diffuse instruction with Jewish values? If it's that alone probably not but it really depends on how cash a nurse at a Catholic hospital who prays with six patients and is told otherwise to tend to their religious needs. I think a nurse doing that. Kind of counseling and prayer may wealth vote within the exception. Yes Oppressor communications staffer who prepares press releases for religious institution of all kinds that they need That that should fall within it okay. CUCKOO's actually not Jewish but who prepares Co Kosher compliant meals for children at a Jewish school? No lawyer for the teachers. Geoffrey Fisher argued that a flat out immunity from discrimination lawsuits for a whole category of employees is the wrong way to go some employees. Yes others absolutely not good enough to give the school in this case the ability to hire fire discipline and otherwise terms and conditions of employment according to their religious values and it just too much and would blow a hole in our nation civil rights. Laws say that categorical. Immunity applies and so schools can pay people different amounts US race sex other president characteristics even when they have nothing to do with the religion in just value that stage Justice Clarence. Thomas turned the tables in this question to Fisher again lawyer for the teachers. Mr Fisher I day. Just general question would exactly what these teachers were doing. The violation of the establishment clause if they did it in a public school calm. I think there's a yes or no answer justice. Thomas was on to something and I can hardly wait for him to develop his thinking in writing. But Fisher did end up saying that yes a public schoolteacher praying and worshiping would be too far assistant to the solicitor. General Morgan rattener argued for the federal government and supported the schools. She said job. Titles cannot be what determines whether someone is a minister. A better measure is job duties but several justices saw problems with that lawyers on both sides advocated to slice and dice. Jobs to try to figure out if an employee is or isn't a minister for purposes of that ministerial exception. Listen to justice neal gorsuch first and then justice Kagan secular court to make that judgment on the basis of arch meant that their activity with respect to religion is the minimus. I can easily see school in which everybody takes a pledge that everything they're gonNa do to help teach these kids to be part of the fate. The next case is going to be a school in which a janitor takes pledge or the school bus driver or the coach and they all believe sincerely that they are ministers. And you're GonNa have tell them know you're a conducive to minimus. Where do we draw that line? Then suppose that I think that the fulltime religion teacher is protected by this exemptions then I think Justice Alito raises a fair point here. It's like well in an elementary school may be you have to teach them other subjects too. So maybe it's a halftime religious teacher. Or maybe it's a quarter time. Where do we draw that? Line Chief Justice Roberts pointed out it'd be easy for schools to game the system by just labeling every worker as a minister and really anyone who teaches children knows that concept's are caught as much as they are taught. I know from my own. Elementary School Years in public school. It was janitor who made the biggest impression on me with his gentle honest and kind demeanor. So where do we draw that line? Perhaps in favor of keeping government from entangling itself with matters of First Amendment protections still people who seek employment in religious institutions should be aware of this and choose their life's work with full knowledge of what's protected and what is not now. I doubt that this one's going to be a unanimous ruling as was Hosanna Taber but I do predict a win for the schools and.