by Allen B. Roberts, Amy J. Traub, and Christina J. Fletcher


Religious organizations and those they employ have anticipated guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court’s first opinion addressing the ministerial exception in the employment discrimination context. With its January 11, 2012, decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & Sch. v. EEOC, U.S., No. 10-553, the Court clarified that the First Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses bar the government from interfering with the “decision of a religious group to fire one of its ministers.” The Court recognized the “interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission.” Consequently, the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment give religious organizations the freedom to select their own ministers, and they trump employment discrimination laws.

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