Ep. 13: Who’s a ‘minister’ and who gets to decide?

May 14, 2020

On this episode of Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman discuss this week’s Supreme Court arguments in cases involving the ministerial exception, a First Amendment doctrine that makes Title VII and other employment discrimination protections inapplicable to certain employees of religious organizations. They explain what the doctrine means (5:33), what you need to know about the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor case that looms large in this term’s cases (3:55), and what to make of active questioning from the justices in this week’s oral arguments (17:20). They also comment on a related line of questioning about public schools that connects to other Supreme Court cases and areas of BJC’s work.

Segment 1: What do you need to know about a previous case to understand the ministerial exception? (starting at 00:40)

Learn more about the 2012 case that dealt with the ministerial exception (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC) on our website at BJConline.org/hosanna-tabor.

To read the Hosanna-Tabor decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and the concurrences from Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, visit this link.

Amanda and Holly also talked about the ministerial exception and other important employment discrimination cases this term in episode 5 of this podcast series. You can listen to it here.


Segment 2: What are our takeaways from this week’s oral argument? (Starting at 15:01)

The two consolidated cases heard on Monday, May 11, are Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. You can access briefs and additional information on the cases at SCOTUSblog.

You can listen to the Supreme Court arguments at this C-SPAN link.

The clip from Justice Stephen Breyer is from about 1:05:29 in the argument.
The clip from Justice Elena Kagan is from about 43:53 in the argument.
The clip from Justice Neil Gorsuch is from 44:58 in the argument.
The clip from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is from about 30:16 in the argument.
The clip form Justice Sonia Sotomayor is from about 13:43 in the argument.


Segment 3: How do these arguments relate to other areas of BJC’s work? (starting at 32:33)

Amanda and Holly discussed the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case in episode 2 of this podcast series.

Amanda and Holly also talked more about religion in public schools on episode 3 of this podcast series.

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