Cases Recognizing the Ministerial Exception
Key Point 8-10.01. The civil courts have consistently ruled that the First Amendment prevents them from applying employment laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.
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. This landmark case is addressed in section 2-04.01 of this text.