Catholic Action League Hails Supreme Court Decision on Catholic Schools

The following is a Catholic Action League of Massachusetts press release…

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today welcomed the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Agnes Morrissey-Bellu and its companion case, Saint James School v. Darryl Biel.

By a 7 to 2 majority, the Court upheld the ministerial exception, which guarantees the right of religious institutions to resolve internal personnel questions without government interference, judicial review, or the threat of litigation based upon anti-discrimination law. The cases decided today originated with lawsuits brought by two teachers who were fired by the Catholic schools which had employed them.

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Samuel Alito said the Free Exercise Clause “does not mean that religious institutions enjoy a general immunity from secular laws, but it does protect their autonomy with respect to internal management decisions that are essential to the institution’s central mission. And a component of this autonomy is the selection of the individuals who play certain key roles. The ‘ministerial exception’ was based on this insight.”

The Catholic Action League called the decision “an important vindication of religious freedom, by upholding the fundamental right of churches and church affiliated institutions to conduct their internal affairs without intrusion by the secular state.”

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “By Wednesday’s decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that civil government must not become entangled in matters which are, properly, part of the constitutionally guaranteed liberty of churches and related faith based organizations.”

“The separation of church and state works in both directions. The state must not insert itself in the internal governance of religious entities. Wednesday’s court decision is a victory for America’s founding principles, and for the just and long established rights of Catholics and of all religious believers”