The Ninth Circuit recently split from seven other Circuits in deciding a First Amendment question of cardinal importance: should the church choose who will teach religion to children in church schools, or should the state? Our Lady of Guadalupe School is a small California Catholic parish school sued by a former teacher for age discrimination. The fifth-grade teacher taught religion, led prayer, planned liturgy, and performed other important religious functions. Following the Supreme Court’s unanimous 2012 decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (which concerned a fourth-grade teacher at a Lutheran school who also performed religious duties), the district court found that the teacher’s religious functions were enough to allow dismissal, since allowing the case to proceed would entangle the state in internal religious affairs and violate the school’s right to select its teachers of religion. But, breaking with seven other circuits, seven state supreme courts, and over the dissent of nine of its judges, the Ninth Circuit reversed. Eric Rassbach, counsel for Our Lady, will explain why the Supreme Court should take the case.
— Eric Rassbach, Vice President and Senior Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
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