web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Jewish Groups Welcome Supreme Court’s ‘Ministerial Exception’ Ruling


Attorney Nathan Lewin

Attorney Nathan Lewin

WASHINGTON – Two groups each known for their internal divisions on religion-state issues found themselves in a degree of accord this week: the justices of the United State Supreme Court and the organized Jewish community.

In a decision issued last week, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of religious institutions to use “ministerial exception” to bypass employee discrimination protections and fire staff, but stopped short of setting parameters for the exception.

Some civil libertarians had argued that courts should have the right to intervene in matters pertaining to the employment of clergy, a stance that even some of their usual allies in the Jewish community rejected.

“There’s wall-to-wall belief in the religious community that that’s a clear violation of what the framers intended,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which praised the court’s ruling.

“There’s nothing more fundamental than choosing your own clergy.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State was among those who blasted the decision. “Blatant discrimination is a social evil we have worked hard to eradicate in the United States,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, its executive director. “I’m afraid the court’s ruling today will make it harder to combat.”

The court’s ruling could limit legal recourse for members of the clergy in their dealings with employers. Even before the ruling, rabbinical associations were already advising rabbis to write employment protections into their contracts, an official of one such rabbinical group said.

“They never really had protections, but this seals it,” the official said.

Jewish groups had closely watched Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a case in which a teacher alleged that a Michigan religious school had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act in firing her.

The school claimed that Cheryl Perich, who suffers from narcolepsy, was exempt from protection as a minister. Perich and the EEOC countered that most of her work involved secular teaching.

It was the first time that the Supreme Court considered ministerial exception, a doctrine that had been shaped by lower courts. Its decision has the effect for now of making its application the law of the land.

The court unanimously held that Perich fell under the “ministerial exception” rule not because of the amount of time she devoted to religious teaching – 45 minutes a day – as a lower court had ruled, but because she had been ordained as a minister by the church in 2000.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the opinion, said the issue “is not one that can be resolved by a stopwatch,” according to the Associated Press. Roberts added that the court would not “adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister.”

The reluctance to delve into details reflected divisions among the justices. Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, wrote that the court should stay out of deciding who is and who is not clergy altogether. Samuel Alito and Elana Kagan seemed to suggest that Roberts’s “minister” designation was too narrow, noting that the limitation should also apply to religious leaders who do not receive formal ordination.

There was similar diversity among Jewish groups who supported the decision.

In a friend of the court brief, COLPA (the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs), on behalf of most major American Orthodox Jewish organizations, favored allowing broad discretion to religious institutions in determining ministerial status.

The Reform movement and the American Jewish Committee said considerations of whether ministry was essential to a staffer’s role should not be assessed according to hours worked, as the lower court had determined.

The Anti-Defamation League sought to place the burden of proof on the employer, not the employee.

Each group, however, welcomed the ruling.

“The burden of showing that an employee is not entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws is now rightfully on the religious institution,” said the ADL.

The AJC said the “unfettered right of religious institutions to decide who shall convey their religious messages is as much an element of church-state separation as the ban on government sponsorship of religious messages.”

The Orthodox Union said the ruling ensures that “houses of worship, parochial schools and other institutions whose missions are to be places of worship” are “constitutionally protected from interference by the secular state.”

The Agudah said that “secular authorities are neither equipped nor allowed to engage in these religious determinations.” And the Reform movement called it a “favorable decision for ensuring religious autonomy in a limited manner that still maintains vital anti-discrimination laws that protect the rights of employees of all faiths and no faith.”

The Reform statement sounded the only note of concern among Jewish groups, saying the ruling did not protect employees who sought to clarify their status through the EEOC from retaliation by the religious institution.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Jewish Groups Welcome Supreme Court’s ‘Ministerial Exception’ Ruling”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)
BiPartisan U.S. Effort to Ensure Hamas Disarmed Before Ceasefire
Latest News Stories
New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)

Senators wrote to Obama insisting any ceasefire ensures Israel will be free from Gazan terrorism.

Eastern Jerusalem  Arabs clash with Israeli police.

Friday, the end of Ramadan, will show whether the Palestinian Authority wants to renew the intifada.

IDC APC covered with letters of support from children of Israel.

If you get the pun, let me know.

Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.

Hamas committed two war crimes at once – firing from the area of the school and preventing civilians to evacuate.

Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a suicide bomber and blew up a vehicle loaded with Grad missiles, its military reported Wednesday. The suicide bomber was wearing a vest loaded with explosives while approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing. The truck with missiles and launchers was on the Egyptian side of border near Gaza. Since the fall […]

The number of rockets and missiles fired on Israel is decreasing, but the war is far from over.

Israel threatened to go disproportional on Gaza, if the FAA ban on US flights to Israel wasn’t rescinded.

Two people were injured in a mortar strike in the Eshkol region. One was hurt seriously, and the other was lightly injured. They were taken to Soroka hospital for treatment.

Hamas rockets exploded in the area, and there was heavy combat going on. UNRWA admits rockets hidden in their other schools have “gone missing.”

Chairman Avner Shalev: Countries must combat “expressions of anti-Semitism”

Israeli leaders say London has special responsibility to stand by Israel at this hour of need; Hammond: Israel right to defend self.

Finance, Economy ministries team up to support Israeli businesses struggling under weight of non-stop rocket fire.

New president to take office this evening; was elected June 10 following bitter campaign

Mrs. Beck took personal interest and was hands-on, sharing with her children, grandchildren, and others the wonderful values that she stood for.

Overnight clash leads dozens of Islamic heroes to surrender; many brought to Shin Bet for debriefing

Jewish communities from around the world have stepped up to support children from southern Israel who have lived their entire lives under the threat of missile attacks from Hamas freedom fighters in Gaza. (To quote the late comedian George Carlin: If firefighters fight fire, and crime fighters fight crime… what do freedom fighters fight? But […]

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Secretary of State Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

“As we have since the beginning of the process, we continue to support Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement to JTA.

WASHINGTON – Until recently, the rule of thumb in the pro-Israel community was that the bigger the academic group, the less likely it was to consider a boycott of Israeli colleagues.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jewish-groups-welcome-supreme-courts-ministerial-exception-ruling/2012/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: