While employers sometimes act in arbitrary (or worse) ways, that does not justify meddling by equally arbitrary (or worse) government bureaucrats, especially given widespread joblessness and economic dislocation.
The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Under this amendment, federal appeals courts have traditionally recognized a "ministerial exception" that in general exempts religious institutions from employment laws. In Hosanna-Tabor vs. EEOC, the high court formally validated this exception.
In what may be its most significant religious liberty decision in two decades, the Supreme Court on [January 11] for the first time recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, saying that churches and other religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference.In the 9-0 decision that completed rejected the position taken by Obama administration lawyers, Chief Justice Roberts wrote in part:
Requiring a church to accept or retainan unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governanceof the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions...
The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important.But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission. When a minister who has been fired sues her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory, the First Amendment has struck the balance for us. The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.This assertion by the Competitive Enterprise Institute is a fitting description of all the radical, overreaching regulators that have infested this administration.
The extreme position taken by the Obama Justice Department in the Hosanna-Tabor case is a reflection of ideologically-based hiring. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department has chosen to hire only liberal lawyers, not moderates or conservatives, for key Justice Department posts that are supposed to be non-political career appointments. Although many experienced lawyers are out of work in the current economic slump, the Obama Justice Department has hired many liberals who have no real-world legal experience, rather than hiring based on merit.