Key point 2-04.01. Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and nonestablishment of religion from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.
1. THE SUPREME COURT'S HOSANNA-TABOR RULING
In a unanimous 2012 ruling, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the so-called "ministerial exception" barring civil court review of employment disputes between churches and ministers. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. E.E.O.C., 132 S.Ct. 694 (2012). The ministerial exception has been applied to a wide range of employment disputes by state and federal courts over the past half century, but had never before been addressed by the Supreme Court.
The case involved a Michigan church (the "Church") affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) that ...