Scott Statement on SCOTUS Decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru

July 8, 2020
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) released the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel that religious employers can exempt some of their employees from civil rights laws on the basis of religious freedom. This is particularly relevant given the Court’s recent decision in Espinoza, which would allow taxpayer money to flow to private, religious schools. 

“Today’s Supreme Court decision creates two types of workplaces in our nation: one where employees’ civil rights protections must be respected and enforceable by their employers, and one where employers of a religious character can determine, based on their own judgment, whether or not they want to abide by employment non-discrimination laws covering race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation.  

“In this case, the Supreme Court found that individuals facing otherwise unlawful discrimination can be denied justice, because they work for a religious employer.  Most troubling, as the dissent noted, it ‘risks allowing employers to decide for themselves whether discrimination is actionable.’  By expanding the scope of the ‘ministerial exemption’ for religious organizations in our nation’s civil rights laws, the Court established a zone of immunity for employment discrimination on matters that are completely unrelated to the organization’s religious beliefs.

“This case will have significant implications for federal grant programs where this administration has also sought to expand religious exemptions for faith-based organizations.  For example, last November, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that would allow taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals in foster care programs, adoption programs, or virtually any of the Department’s grant programs.

“Religious liberty can never justify discrimination.  That is why Congress must pass H.R. 1450, the Do No Harm Act, which would help ensure that our closely held right to religious liberty cannot be used to undermine civil and legal rights.”

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