Hosanna Indeed: High Court Affirms Religious Liberty in ‘Ministerial Exception’ Case

By a unanimous vote, with chief justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion and Justice Samuel Alito (joined by Justice Elena Kagan) and Justice Clarence Thomas writing separate concurrences, the Supreme Court today affirmed the “ministerial exception” which prevents federal agencies and courts from second-guessing churches’ decisions on who to hire and retain as teachers, leaders and ministers. The Obama administration had taken the disturbing position that there should be no ministerial exception at all to stand between churches and the full panoply of official employment regulation, though it acknowledged that constitutional freedom of association might afford churches some autonomy. I wrote about the case last fall and Notre Dame’s Richard Garnett has an early account of today’s decision at NRO “Bench Memos”.