Liveblogging Tonight’s Ministerial Exemption/Hosanna-Tabor Discussion

Tonight at St. John’s, CLR co-sponsored a panel on Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, scheduled for oral argument tomorrow at the Supreme Court. The case concerns whether a teacher at a religious school, who was also an ordained minister and performed several religious functions, can sue the school for unjust termination and retaliation under the terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  After Dean Michael Simons (right) opened the conference, Professor Marc DeGirolami gave historical background on the origins of church-state independence and the ministerial exemption.  Professor DeGirolami (below) explained that the ministerial exemption is intended to safeguard religious autonomy as well as several other values of religious liberty, but that important state values compete against these interests.    Professor Mark Movsesian addressed the underlying policies of the ministerial exemption, including the protection of religious worship as a communal activity and the need for institutions that can offset state power.  Professor David Gregory, Director of the St. John’s Center for Labor and Employment Law, addressed the issue in the employment law context.  And Peter J. Johnson, Jr., President of Leahey & Johnson, P.C., discussed whether the decision to hire and fire church employees should be made by the state or left to religious institutions.  –JKH & YAH

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