The decisions mark the first entrance by a federal appeals court into the growing debate surrounding whether and to what extent a governor’s emergency restrictions on public gatherings apply to worship services.
These new cases raise the question of how courts should go about answering the question of whether an employee is covered by the ministerial exception and, as a result, cannot litigate an employment discrimination claim.
In this new case, more than one justice – including Chief Justice John Roberts – sounded frustrated that their previous ruling in Zubik (encouraging the parties to find a compromise on the contraceptive mandate) had not worked.
In a letter to congressional leaders, 183 organizations – including BJC – urged that any future legislation providing resources to those impacted by COVID-19 should include explicit language barring discrimination, including religious discrimination.
It’s clear that courts are dealing with a variety of constitutional concerns, as well as public health orders that take radically different approaches. In some cases, local governments have reached agreements or clarified positions in a way that address earlier concerns.