The Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim played a role in a groundbreaking religious liberty decision this week by the United States Supreme Court. In the case, OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE SCHOOL v. AGNES MORRISSEY-BERRU, the court ruled on July 8, 2020, that federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to teachers at church-run schools whose duties include religious instruction.

The 7-to-2 ruling affirms the religious liberties of religious groups, that their convictions cannot be challenged because they are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom forbids judges from interfering in the internal workings of religious institutions.

“When a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith,” he wrote, “judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.”

The court’s other more conservative members joined Justice Alito’s opinion, as did Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan.

The Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim was among the coalition of American Jewish Organizations represented in the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) amicus brief filed in this landmark United States Supreme Court Case. Hopefully, this landmark decision will set a positive precedent that will protect religious liberty for generations to come.  

The brief was written by the preeminent Orthodox Jewish Constitutional attorney Nat Lewin, Esq. Among the Orthodox groups who joined the brief included Agudath Israel of America, Agudas HaRabbonim, National Council of Young Israel, Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and Rabbinical Council of America. 

Justice Alito’s majority opinion for the Court says at page 17: “A brief submitted by Jewish organizations makes the point that Judaism has many ‘ministers,’” that is, “the term ‘minister’ encompasses an extensive breadth of religious functionaries in Judaism.” It is followed by footnote 11 that reads: “Brief for Colpa et al. as Amici Curiae i, 3 (quotation modified).”