Attorneys reacting to Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings are pointing out the ringing endorsement of religious freedom by the majority of the justices.
America's highest court issued two rulings yesterday upholding the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, protecting the rights of various religious institutions. In both cases, the Supreme Court voted 7-2.
In one case, the court ruling involved Catholic schools and determined that employment decisions can be based on fulfilling the beliefs of the religious institution.
"These rulings are major wins for religious liberty. We applaud the Court for recognizing in Our Lady of Guadalupe that employers with religious convictions have the right to operate according to those convictions and to employ those who will do so as well – and not just when it comes to ministers.
"Furthermore, NRB applauds the Court for ensuring through its decision on Little Sisters of the Poor that organizations with sincerely-held religious and/or moral objections are not forced to provide coverage for some or all contraceptive services in their health plans as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
Troy Miller, CEO
National Religious Broadcasters
In the Our Lady of Guadalupe case, the Supreme Court considered First Amendment protections for Catholic schools and upheld the right of religious schools to decide who teaches the faith without court interference. The court's opinion indicates the positions held within religious institutions must be treated differently than public schools; and acknowledges the fact that the duties of a teacher at a religious school include teaching the faith, even when fulfilling non-ministerial positions.
While the ruling ensures hiring of those who will adhere to OLG's faith foundation, Stephanie Taub, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, tells OneNewsNow the decision goes beyond just Catholic schools.
"The First Amendment protects the right of not only Catholic schools but other religious schools, places of worship and other religious ministries to choose who performs vital religious duties for that religious organization," Taub relays.
In the other case, the Supreme Court ruled to make an exception to a clause within the Affordable Care Act for an order of nuns. Little Sisters of the Poor has been to the nation's highest court three times, and remain victorious in each appearance against state and federal governments. The aforementioned clause requires organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortive drugs, which is strictly against the sisters' religious beliefs.
Mark Rienzi with Becket Law spoke on the matter of religious freedoms, saying the court was clear that governments need to pay attention to religious beliefs as they regulate case by case instances.
"We're really very hopeful this is the end and that governments realize now they should just back off," Rienzi adds.
The attorney says it really boils down to governments and other entities reading and then abiding by the strict requirement of the Constitution.