Opinions & Commentaries

13 U.S. 43 (1815) 9 Cranch 43 TERRETT AND OTHERS v. TAYLOR AND OTHERS. Supreme Court of United States. February 17, 1815. Absent. … JOHNSON, J. and TODD, J. *45 The cause was argued at last term by JONES, for the Plaintiffs in error, and by E.I. LEE and SWANN, for the Defendants in error. STORY, J. delivered the opinion of the Court as follows: The Defendants not having answered to the bill in the Court below, it has been taken pro confesso, and the cause is therefore to be decided upon the title and equity apparent on the face […]

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This case belongs to a class, happily rare in our courts, in which one of the parties to a controversy, essentially ecclesiastical, resorts to the judicial tribunals of the State for the maintenance of rights which the church has refused to acknowledge, or found itself unable to protect. Much as such dissensions among the members of a religious society should *714 be regretted, a regret which is increased when passing from the control of the judicial and legislative bodies of the entire organization to which the society belongs, an appeal is made to the secular authority; the courts when so called on must perform their functions as in other cases.

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Since our judgment in this case was announced, a petition for rehearing has been filed, in which our attention is called to the fact that the sentence of the *169 court below requires the imprisonment to be at hard labor, when the act of Congress under which the indictment was found provides for punishment by imprisonment only. This was not assigned for error on the former hearing, and we might on that account decline to consider it now; but as the irregularity is one which appears on the face of the record, we vacate our former judgment of affirmance, and reverse the judgment of the court below for the purpose of correcting the only error which appears in the record, to wit, in the form of the sentence. The cause is remanded, with instructions to cause the sentence of the District Court to be set aside and a new one entered on the verdict in all respects like that before imposed, except so far as it requires the imprisonment to be at hard labor.

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The principal questions raised are, first, as to the power of Congress to repeal the charter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; and, secondly, as to the power of Congress and the courts to seize the property of said corporation and to hold the same for the purposes mentioned in the decree.

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Newton Cantwell and his two sons, Jesse and Russell, members of a group known as Jehovah's witnesses, and claiming to be ordained ministers, were arrested in New Haven, Connecticut, and each was charged by information in five counts, with statutory and common law offenses. After trial each of them was convicted of the common law offense of inciting a breach of the peace. On appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court the conviction of Jesse Cantwell was affirmed, but the conviction of Newton and Russell on that count was reversed and a new trial ordered as to them.

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Overruled

Lillian Gobitis, aged twelve, and her brother William, aged ten, were expelled from the public schools of Minersville, Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the national flag as part of a daily school exercise. The local Board of Education required both teachers and pupils to participate in this ceremony. The Gobitis family are affiliated with "Jehovah's Witnesses," for whom the Bible as the Word of God is the supreme authority. The children had been brought up conscientiously to believe that such a gesture of respect for the flag was forbidden by command of Scripture. The Gobitis children were of an age for which Pennsylvania makes school attendance compulsory. Thus, they were denied a free education, and their parents had to put them into private schools. To be relieved of the financial burden thereby entailed, their father, on behalf of the children and in his own behalf, brought this suit.

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This appeal brings here for review the conviction of appellant for violation of Ordinance No. 612 of the City of Paris, Texas, which makes it unlawful for any person to solicit orders or to sell books, wares or merchandise within the residence portion of Paris without first filing an application and obtaining a permit. The ordinance goes on to provide that *419 "if after investigation the Mayor deems it proper or advisable he may issue a written permit to said person for the purpose of soliciting, selling, canvassing or census taking within the residence portion of the city which permit shall state on its face that it has been issued after a thorough investigation."[1]

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The appellant, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, was charged with distributing handbills on the streets of Dallas, Texas, in violation of an ordinance of that city which prohibits their distribution. She was convicted in the Corporation Court of Dallas, and appealed to the *414 County Criminal Court where, after a trial de novo, she was again convicted and a fine of $5.00 and costs was imposed. Under Texas law she could appeal to no higher state court,[1] and since she properly raised federal questions of substance in both courts, the case is rightfully here on appeal under § 237 (a) of the Judicial Code. King Manufacturing Co. v. Augusta, 277 U.S. 100. The appellee has asked us to reconsider the doctrine of the King Manufacturing Co. case under which this Court takes jurisdiction on appeal from judgments sustaining the validity of municipal ordinances. We see no reason for reconsidering the King Manufacturing Co. case and follow it here.

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The City of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, has an ordinance, some forty years old, which provides in part:

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The case brings for review another episode in the conflict between Jehovah's Witnesses and state authority. This time Sarah Prince appeals from convictions for violating Massachusetts' child labor laws, by acts said to be a rightful exercise of her religious convictions.

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Appellant was convicted of violating an ordinance of the town of McCormick, South Carolina which provided: ". . . the following license on business, occupation and professions to be paid by the person or persons carrying on or engaged in such business, occupation or professions within the corporate limits of the Town of McCormick, South Carolina: Agents selling books, per day $1.00, per year $15.00." Appellant is a Jehovah's Witness and has been certified by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society as "an ordained minister of Jehovah God to preach the gospel of God's kingdom under Christ Jesus." He is a resident of McCormick, South Carolina, where he went from house to house distributing certain books. He obtained his living from the money received; he had no other source of income. He claimed that he merely offered the books for a "contribution." But there was evidence that he "offered to and did sell the books." Admittedly he had no license from the town and refused to obtain one. He moved for a directed verdict of not guilty at the close of the evidence, claiming that the ordinance restricted freedom of worship in violation of the First Amendment which the Fourteenth Amendment makes applicable to the States. The motion was overruled and appellant was found guilty by the jury in the Mayor's Court. That judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of General Sessions for McCormick County and then by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. The case is here on appeal. Judicial Code, § 237 (a), 28 U.S.C. § 344 (a).

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Respondents were indicted and convicted for using, and conspiring to use, the mails to defraud. § 215 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 338; § 37 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 88. The indictment was in twelve counts. It charged a scheme to defraud by organizing and promoting the I Am movement through the use of the mails. The charge was that certain designated corporations were formed, literature distributed and sold, funds solicited, and memberships in the I Am movement sought "by means of false and fraudulent representations, pretenses and promises." The false representations charged were eighteen in number. It is sufficient at this point to say that they covered respondents' alleged religious doctrines or beliefs. They were all set forth in the first count. The following are representative:

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The appellant was charged in the Justice Court of Medina County, Texas, with violating Article 479, Chap. 3 of the Texas Penal Code which makes it an offense for any "peddler or hawker of goods or merchandise" wilfully to refuse to leave premises after having been notified to do so by the owner or possessor thereof. The appellant urged in his defense that he was not a peddler or hawker of merchandise, but a minister of the gospel engaged in the distribution of religious literature to willing recipients. He contended that to construe the Texas statute as applicable to his activities would, to that extent, bring it into conflict with the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of press and religion. His contention was rejected and he was convicted. On appeal to the Medina County Court, his Constitutional contention was again overruled. Since he could not appeal to a higher state court this appeal under § 237 (a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. 344 (a) is properly before us. Largent v. Texas, 318 U.S. 418.

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In this case we are asked to decide whether a State, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, can impose criminal punishment on a person who undertakes to distribute religious literature on the premises of a company-owned town contrary to the wishes of the town's management. The town, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, known as Chickasaw, is owned by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation. Except for that it has all the characteristics of any other American town. The property consists of residential buildings, streets, a system of sewers, a sewage disposal plant and a "business block" on which business places are situated. A deputy of the Mobile County Sheriff, paid by the company, serves as the town's policeman. Merchants and service establishments have rented the stores and business places on the business block and *503 the United States uses one of the places as a post office from which six carriers deliver mail to the people of Chickasaw and the adjacent area. The town and the surrounding neighborhood, which can not be distinguished from the Gulf property by anyone not familiar with the property lines, are thickly settled, and according to all indications the residents use the business block as their regular shopping center. To do so, they now, as they have for many years, make use of a company-owned paved street and sidewalk located alongside the store fronts in order to enter and leave the stores and the post office. Intersecting company-owned roads at each end of the business block lead into a four-lane public highway which runs parallel to the business block at a distance of thirty feet. There is nothing to stop highway traffic from coming onto the business block and upon arrival a traveler may make free use of the facilities available there. In short the town and its shopping district are accessible to and freely used by the public in general and there is nothing to distinguish them from any other town and shopping center except the fact that the title to the property belongs to a private corporation.

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Appellants are two members of the religious group known as Jehovah's Witnesses. At the invitation of local coreligionists, they scheduled Bible talks in the public park of the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland. Although there is no ordinance prohibiting or regulating the use of this park, it has been the custom for organizations and individuals desiring to use it for meetings and celebrations of various kinds to obtain permits from the Park Commissioner. In conformity with this practice, the group requested permission of the Park Commissioner for use of the park on four consecutive Sundays in June and July, 1949. This permission was refused.

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New York City has adopted an ordinance which makes it unlawful to hold public worship meetings on the streets *291 without first obtaining a permit from the city police commissioner.[1] Appellant, Carl Jacob Kunz, was convicted and fined $10 for violating this ordinance by holding a religious meeting without a permit. The conviction was *292 affirmed by the Appellate Part of the Court of Special Sessions, and by the New York Court of Appeals, three judges dissenting, 300 N. Y. 273, 90 N. E. 2d 455 (1950). The case is here on appeal, it having been urged that the ordinance is invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment.

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The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has an ordinance which reads as follows:

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This appeal presents the validity of a conviction of appellant for conducting religious services in a public park of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, without a required license, when proper application for the license had been arbitrarily and unreasonably refused by the City Council. The conclusion depends upon consideration of the principles *397 of the First Amendment secured against state abridgment by the Fourteenth.[1]

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363 U.S. 190 (1960) KRESHIK ET AL. v. SAINT NICHOLAS CATHEDRAL OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA. No. 824. Supreme Court of United States. Decided June 6, 1960. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK. Philip Adler and Eugene Gressman for petitioners. Ralph Montgomery Arkush and Charles H. Tuttle for respondent. PER CURIAM. The motion for leave to proceed upon the record in No. 3, October Term, 1952, and the petition for certiorari, are granted. In a prior decision in this litigation, we held that the right conferred under canon law […]

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366 U.S. 617 (1961) GALLAGHER, CHIEF OF POLICE OF SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, ET AL. v. CROWN KOSHER SUPER MARKET OF MASSACHUSETTS, INC., ET AL. No. 11. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 7-8, 1960. Decided May 29, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Joseph H. Elcock, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts, argued the cause for appellants. With him on the brief were Edward J. McCormack, Jr., Attorney General, John Warren McGarry, Assistant Attorney General, Arthur E. Sutherland and S. Thomas Martinelli. *618 Herbert B. Ehrmann argued the cause for appellees. With him […]

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366 U.S. 599 (1961) BRAUNFELD ET AL. v. BROWN, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL. No. 67. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 8, 1960. Decided May 29, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA. Theodore R. Mann argued the cause for appellants. With him on the brief were Marvin Garfinkel and Stephen B. Narin. David Berger argued the cause and filed a brief for appellees. Arthur Littleton, Benjamin M. Quigg, Jr. and Russell C. Dilks filed a brief for the Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association, intervening defendant-appellee. *600 Briefs of amici curiae, […]

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Article 37 of the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution provided: "[N]o religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God . . . ." The appellant, Roy Torcaso, was appointed to the office of Notary Public by the Governor of Maryland but was refused a commission to serve because he would not declare his belief in God. He then brought an action in a Maryland Circuit Court to compel issuance of his commission, charging that the State's requirement that he declare this belief violated "the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States . . . ." The Circuit Court rejected these federal constitutional contentions, and the highest court of the State, the Court of Appeals, affirmed, holding that the state constitutional provision is self-executing and requires declaration of belief in God as a qualification for office without need for implementing legislation.

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Appellant, Adell H. Sherbert, a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was discharged by her South Carolina employer because she would not work on Saturday, the Sabbath Day of her faith. She was unable to obtain other employment because she would not work on Saturday, and she filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits under the South Carolina Unemployment Compensation Act, which provides that a claimant is ineligible for benefits if he has failed, without good cause, to accept available suitable work when offered him. The State Commission denied Appellant's application on the ground that she would not accept suitable work when offered, and its action was sustained by the State Supreme Court.

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378 U.S. 546 (1964) COOPER v. PATE, WARDEN. No. 1134, Misc. Supreme Court of United States. Decided June 22, 1964. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT. Alex Elson and Bernard Weisberg for petitioner. William G. Clark, Attorney General of Illinois, and Raymond S. Sarnow and Edward A. Berman, Assistant Attorneys General, for respondent. PER CURIAM. The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for a writ of certiorari are granted. The petitioner, an inmate at the Illinois State Penitentiary, brought an action under 28 U. […]

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382 U.S. 204 (1965) SOLOMON v. SOUTH CAROLINA. No. 588. Supreme Court of United States. Decided December 6, 1965. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF SOUTH CAROLINA. Ellis Lyons for appellant. Daniel R. McLeod, Attorney General of South Carolina, and E. N. Brandon, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee. PER CURIAM. The motion to dismiss is granted and the appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question. MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS is of the opinion that the judgment should be reversed on the authority of Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398. And see McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U. S. […]

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This is a church property dispute which arose when two local churches withdrew from a hierarchical general church organization. Under Georgia law the right to the property previously used by the local churches was made to turn on a civil court jury decision as to whether the general church abandoned or departed from the tenets of faith and practice it held at the time the local churches affiliated with it. The question presented is whether the restraints of the First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, permit a civil court to award church property on the basis of the interpretation and significance the civil court assigns to aspects of church doctrine.

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398 U.S. 333 (1970) WELSH v. UNITED STATES.   No. 76. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 20, 1970 Decided June 15, 1970 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.*334 J. B. Tietz argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner. Solicitor General Griswold argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Assistant Attorney General Wilson, Francis X. Beytagh, Jr., and Beatrice Rosenberg. *335 MR. JUSTICE BLACK announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, and MR. JUSTICE […]

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These cases present the question whether conscientious objection to a particular war, rather than objection to war as such, relieves the objector from responsibilities of military training and service. Specifically, we are called upon to decide whether conscientious scruples relating to a particular conflict are within the purview of established provisions[1] relieving conscientious objectors to war from military service. Both petitioners also invoke constitutional principles barring government interference with the exercise of religion and requiring governmental neutrality in matters of religion.

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402 U.S. 689 (1971) DEWEY v. REYNOLDS METALS CO. No. 835. Supreme Court of United States. Argued April 20-21, 1971. Decided June 1, 1971 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. Donald F. Oosterhouse argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner. William A. Coughlin, Jr., argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Fred R. Edney. Deputy Solicitor General Wallace argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Griswold, Assistant Attorney General Leonard, David L. Rose, Stanley P. […]

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403 U.S. 698 (1971) CLAY, AKA ALI v. UNITED STATES. No. 783. Supreme Court of United States. Argued April 19, 1971 Decided June 28, 1971 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT. Chauncey Eskridge argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit III, Jonathan Shapiro, and Elizabeth B. DuBois. Solicitor General Griswold argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Assistant Attorney General Wilson and Beatrice Rosenberg. PER CURIAM. The petitioner was convicted for willful refusal to submit to induction into the […]

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405 U.S. 319 (1972) CRUZ v. BETO, CORRECTIONS DIRECTOR. No. 71-5552. Supreme Court of United States. Decided March 20, 1972. ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT. PER CURIAM. The complaint, alleging a cause of action under 42 U. S. C. § 1983, states that Cruz is a Buddhist, who is in a Texas prison. While prisoners who are members of other religious sects are allowed to use the prison chapel, Cruz is not. He shared his Buddhist religious material with other prisoners and, according to the allegations, in retaliation […]

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Respondents, members of the Old Order Amish religion and the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church, were convicted of violating Wisconsin's compulsory school attendance law (which requires a child's school attendance until age 16) by declining to send their children to public or private school after they had graduated from the eighth grade. The evidence showed that the Amish provide continuing informal vocational education to their children designed to prepare them for life in the rural Amish community. The evidence also showed that respondents sincerely believed that high school attendance was contrary to the Amish religion and way of life, and that they would endanger their own salvation and that of their children by complying with the law. The State Supreme Court sustained respondents' claim that application of the compulsory school attendance law to them violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.

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A draftee accorded Class I-O conscientious objector status and completing performance of required alternative *363 civilian service[1] does not qualify under 38 U. S. C. § 1652 (a) (1) as a "veteran who . . . served on active duty" (defined in 38 U. S. C. § 101 (21) as "full-time duty in the Armed Forces"), and is therefore not an "eligible veteran" entitled under 38 U. S. C. § 1661 (a) to veterans' educational benefits provided by the Veterans' Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966.[2] Appellants, the Veterans' *364 Administration and the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, for that reason, denied the application for educational assistance of appellee Robison, a conscientious objector who filed his application after he satisfactorily completed two years of alternative civilian service at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston. Robison thereafter commenced this class action[3] in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeking a declaratory judgment that 38 U. S. C. §§ 101 (21), 1652 (a) (1), and 1661 (a), read together, violated the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.[4] Appellants moved to dismiss the action on the *365 ground, among others, that the District Court lacked jurisdiction because of 38 U. S. C. § 211 (a) which prohibits judicial review of decisions of the Administrator.[5] The District Court denied the motion, and, on the merits, rejected appellee's First Amendment claim, but sustained the equal protection claim and entered a judgment declaring "that 38 U. S. C. §§ 1652 (a) (1) and 1661 (a) defining `eligible veteran' and providing for entitlement to educational assistance are unconstitutional and that 38 U. S. C. § 101 (21) defining `active duty' is unconstitutional with respect to chapter 34 of Title 38, United States Code, 38 U. S. C. §§ 1651-1697, conferring Veterans' Educational Assistance, for the reason that said sections deny plaintiff and members of his class due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States . . . ." 352 F. Supp. 848, 862 (1973).[6] We postponed *366 consideration of the question of jurisdiction in light of § 211 (a) to the hearing on the merits, and set the case for oral argument with No. 72-700, Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration, post, p. 391. 411 U. S. 981 (1973).[7] We hold, in agreement with the District Court, that § 211 (a) is inapplicable to this action and therefore that appellants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter was properly denied. On the merits, we agree that appellee's First Amendment claim is without merit but disagree that §§ 1652 (a) (1), 1661 (a), and 101 (21) violate the Fifth Amendment and therefore reverse the judgment of the District Court.

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In 1963, the Holy Assembly of Bishops and the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Mother Church) *698 suspended and ultimately removed respondent Dionisije Milivojevich (Dionisije) as Bishop of the American-Canadian Diocese of that Church, and appointed petitioner Bishop Firmilian Ocokoljich (Firmilian) as Administrator of the Diocese, which the Mother Church then reorganized into three Dioceses. In 1964 the Holy Assembly and Holy Synod defrocked Dionisije as a Bishop and cleric of the Mother Church. In this civil action brought by Dionisije and the other respondents in Illinois Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that the proceedings of the Mother Church respecting Dionisije were procedurally and substantively defective under the internal regulations of the Mother Church and were therefore arbitrary and invalid. The State Supreme Court also invalidated the Diocesan reorganization into three Dioceses. 60 Ill. 2d 477, 328 N. E. 2d 268 (1975).[1] We granted certiorari to determine whether the actions of the Illinois Supreme Court constituted improper judicial interference with decisions of the highest authorities of a hierarchical church in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 423 U. S. 911 (1975). We hold that the inquiries made by the Illinois Supreme Court into matters of ecclesiastical cognizance and polity and the court's actions pursuant thereto contravened the First and Fourteenth Amendments. We therefore reverse.

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429 U.S. 65 (1976) PARKER SEAL CO. v. CUMMINS. No. 75-478. Supreme Court of United States. Argued October 12, 1976. Decided November 2, 1976. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. Leonard H. Becker argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Paul S. Ryerson. Thomas L. Hogan argued the cause for respondent. With him on the briefs was James C. Hickey. Deputy Solicitor General Wallace argued the cause for the United States et al. as amici curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Bork, Assistant Attorney General […]

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New Hampshire statutes require that noncommercial motor vehicles bear license plates embossed with the state motto, "Live Free or Die," and make it a misdemeanor to obscure the motto. Appellees, Maynard and his wife, who are followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith, view the motto as repugnant to their moral, religious, and political beliefs, and accordingly they covered up the motto on the license plates of their jointly owned family automobiles. Appellee Maynard was subsequently found guilty in state court of violating the misdemeanor statute on three separate charges and upon refusing to pay the fines imposed was sentenced to, and served, 15 days in jail.

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435 U.S. 618 (1978) McDANIEL v. PATY ET AL. No. 76-1427. Supreme Court of United States. Argued December 5, 1977. Decided April 19, 1978. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE. *620 Frederic S. Le Clercq argued the cause and filed a brief for appellant. Kenneth R. Herrell, Assistant Attorney General of Tennessee, argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief for appellees Hassler et al. were Brooks McLemore, Attorney General, and C. Hayes Cooney, Chief Deputy Attorney General. Phillip C. Lawrence filed a brief for appellee Paty.[*] MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER announced the judgment of the Court […]

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This case involves a dispute over the ownership of church property following a schism in a local church affiliated with a hierarchical church organization. The question for decision is whether civil courts, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, may resolve the dispute on the basis of "neutral principles of law," or whether they must defer to the resolution of an authoritative tribunal of the hierarchical church.

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We granted certiorari to consider whether the State's denial of unemployment compensation benefits to the petitioner, a Jehovah's Witness who terminated his job because his religious beliefs forbade participation in the production of armaments, constituted a violation of his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. 444 U. S. 1070 (1980).

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A rule (Rule 6.05) of the Minnesota Agricultural Society (Society), a Minnesota public corporation that operates the annual state fair, provides that sale or distribution of any merchandise, including printed or written material, except from a duly licensed location on the fairgrounds shall be a misdemeanor. As Rule 6.05 is construed and applied by the Society, all persons, groups, or firms desiring to sell, exhibit, or distribute materials during the fair must do so only from fixed locations. However, the Rule does not prevent organizational representatives from walking about the fairgrounds and communicating the organization's views to fair patrons in face-to-face discussions. Space in the fairgrounds is rented in a nondiscriminatory fashion on a first-come, first-served basis, and Rule 6.05 applies alike to nonprofit, charitable, and commercial enterprises. Respondents, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. (ISKCON), an organization espousing the views of the Krishna religion, and the head of one of its temples filed suit in a Minnesota state court against state officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that Rule 6.05, on its face and as applied, violated their First Amendment rights. ISKCON asserted that the Rule suppressed the practice of Sankirtan, a religious ritual that enjoins its members to go into public places to distribute or sell religious literature and to solicit donations for the support of the Krishna religion. The trial court upheld the constitutionality of Rule 6.05, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed.

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We noted probable jurisdiction to determine whether imposition of social security taxes is unconstitutional as applied to persons who object on religious grounds to receipt of public insurance benefits and to payment of taxes to support public insurance funds. 450 U. S. 993 (1981). The District Court concluded that the Free Exercise Clause prohibits forced payment of social security taxes when payment of taxes and receipt of benefits violate the taxpayer's religion. We reverse.

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472 U.S. 478 (1985) JENSEN, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES OF NEBRASKA, ET AL. v. QUARING No. 83-1944. Supreme Court of United States. Argued January 7, 1985 Decided June 17, 1985 CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHT CIRCUIT Ruth Anne E. Galter, Assistant Attorney General of Nebraska, argued the cause for petitioners. With her on the brief was Paul L. Douglas, Attorney General. Thomas C. Lansworth argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Burt Neuborne and Charles S. Sims.[*] PER CURIAM. The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court. JUSTICE […]

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Petitioner S. Simcha Goldman contends that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution permits him to wear a yarmulke while in uniform, notwithstanding an Air Force regulation mandating uniform dress for Air Force personnel. The District Court for the District of Columbia permanently enjoined the Air Force from enforcing its regulation against petitioner and from penalizing him for wearing his yarmulke. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed on the ground that the Air Force's strong interest in discipline justified the strict enforcement of its uniform dress requirements. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the question, 472 U. S. 1016 (1985), and now affirm.

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476 U.S. 693 (1986) BOWEN, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. v. ROY ET AL. No. 84-780. Supreme Court of United States. Argued January 14, 1986 Decided June 11, 1986 APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA *694 Deputy Solicitor General Geller argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Fried, Acting Assistant Attorney General Willard, Kathryn A. Oberly, and Peter R. Maier. Gary S. Gildin argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Franklin A. Miles, Jr., Stefan Presser, and Charles S. Sims.[*] […]

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Appellant's employer discharged her when she refused to work certain scheduled hours because of sincerely held religious convictions adopted after beginning employment. The question to be decided is whether Florida's denial of unemployment compensation benefits to appellant violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.[1]

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This case requires us to consider once again the standard of review for prison regulations claimed to inhibit the exercise of constitutional rights. Respondents, members of the Islamic *345 faith, were prisoners in New Jersey's Leesburg State Prison.[1] They challenged policies adopted by prison officials which resulted in their inability to attend Jumu'ah, a weekly Muslim congregational service regularly held in the main prison building and in a separate facility known as "the Farm." Jumu'ah is commanded by the Koran and must be held every Friday after the sun reaches its zenith and before the Asr, or afternoon prayer. See Koran 62: 9-10; Brief for Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin et al. as Amici Curiae 18-31. There is no question that respondents' sincerely held religious beliefs compelled attendance at Jumu'ah. We hold that the prison regulations here challenged did not violate respondents' rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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This case requires us to consider whether the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause prohibits the Government from permitting timber harvesting in, or constructing a road through, a portion of a National Forest that has traditionally *442 been used for religious purposes by members of three American Indian tribes in northwestern California. We conclude that it does not.

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Respondents are drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation counselors who were discharged after they ingested peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, during a religious ceremony of the Native American Church. Both applied for and were denied unemployment compensation by petitioner Employment Division. The Oregon Supreme Court held that this denial, although *662 proper as a matter of Oregon law, violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution.[1] In reaching that conclusion the state court attached no significance to the fact that the possession of peyote is a felony under Oregon law punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years.[2] Because we are persuaded that the alleged illegality of respondents' conduct is relevant to the constitutional analysis, we granted certiorari, 480 U. S. 916 (1987), and now vacate the judgments and remand for further proceedings.

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The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act provides that "[a]n individual shall be ineligible for benefits if he has failed, without good cause, either to apply for available, suitable work when so directed . . . or to accept suitable work when offered him . . . ." Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 48, ¶ 433 (1986). In April 1984, William Frazee refused a temporary retail position offered him by Kelly Services because the job would have required him to work on Sunday. Frazee told Kelly that, as a Christian, he could not work on "the Lord's day." Frazee then applied to the Illinois Department of Employment Security for unemployment benefits claiming that there was good cause for his refusal to work on Sunday. His application was denied. Frazee appealed the denial of benefits to the Department of Employment Security's Board of Review, which also denied his claim. The Board of Review stated: "When a refusal of work is based on religious convictions, the refusal must be based upon some tenets or dogma accepted by the individual of some church, sect, or denomination, and such a refusal based solely on an individual's personal belief is personal and noncompelling and does not render the work unsuitable." *831 App. 18-19. The Board of Review concluded that Frazee had refused an offer of suitable work without good cause. The Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, Peoria County, affirmed, finding that the agency's decision was "not contrary to law nor against the manifest weight of the evidence," thereby rejecting Frazee's claim based on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Id., at 23.

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This case presents the question whether the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment prohibit a State from imposing a generally applicable sales and use tax on the distribution of religious materials by a religious organization.

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Respondents Smith and Black were fired by a private drug rehabilitation organization because they ingested peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, for sacramental purposes at a ceremony of their Native American Church. Their applications for unemployment compensation were denied by the State of Oregon under a state law disqualifying employees discharged for work-related "misconduct." Holding that the denials violated respondents' First Amendment free exercise rights, the State Court of Appeals reversed. The State Supreme Court affirmed, but this Court vacated the judgment and remanded for a determination whether sacramental peyote use is proscribed by the State's controlled substance law, which makes it a felony to knowingly or intentionally possess the drug. Pending that determination, the Court refused to decide whether such use is protected by the Constitution. On remand, the State Supreme Court held that sacramental peyote use violated, and was not excepted from, the state law prohibition, but concluded that that prohibition was invalid under the Free Exercise Clause.

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The school district of Center Moriches, New York, adopted rules that permitted its facilities to be used for social, civic, and recreational purposes, but that prohibited any group from using the facilities for religious purposes. Lamb's Chapel, an evangelical church, applied for permission to show a six-part film series in one of the buildings. The series presented a religious perspective on family issues and child rearing. The school district denied the application, relying on the prohibition against using the facilities for religious purposes. Lamb's Chapel sued in federal court, but both the trial court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the school district. A government is not obligated to make its non-public facilities available for use by the general public. Even when it does so, it may limit the purposes for which the facilities may be used. The government may not, however, deny access to the facilities based upon the viewpoint of the person who seeks access to them.Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense and Ed. Fund, 473 U.S. 788 (1985). A government may deny access to a religious group if allowing access would violate the First Amendment's prohibition against establishing a religion. One test for evaluating whether the Establishment Clause is being violated is set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971) — whether the challenged governmental action has a secular purpose, whether the action has the principal effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and whether it fosters an excessive entanglement with religion. While never quite repudiated, this test has proven unpopular with many members of the Court.

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508 U.S. 520 (1993) CHURCH OF THE LUKUMI BABALU AYE, INC., ET AL. v. CITY OF HIALEAH No. 91-948. United States Supreme Court. Argued November 4, 1992. Decided June 11, 1993. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT *521 *522 Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III, and IV, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined, the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II—B, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, Stevens, Scalia, and Thomas, JJ., joined, the opinion […]

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In 1993, the St. Peter Catholic Church in Boerne, Texas, applied to city officials for permission to expand the size of the church. The city's Landmark Commission denied the church's request on the grounds that the church's facade was within the city's historic district. After the city council rejected the church's appeal, the church sued in federal court, claiming that the local ordinance establishing the city's historic district was unconstitutional and violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. __ 2000bb et seq. ("RFRA"). Congress passed the RFRA in 1993 in response to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Employment Division, Dep't of Human Resources v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). In Smith, the Court held that laws not directed at religion are constitutional even if they adversely affect persons who are attempting to practice their religions. The RFRA establishes a higher standard than the decision in Smith and provides that a law may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion unless the government demonstrates that the law furthers a compelling governmental interest and that the law is the least restrictive way of furthering that interest. The trial court rejected the church's argument and ruled that the RFRA was unconstitutional because it infringed on the authority of courts to establish standards for evaluating constitutional issues. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the RFRA was constitutional because the law did not usurp the judiciary's power to interpret the Constitution. Rather, according to the appellate court, the RFRA simply created rights and protections in addition to the constitutional rights already recognized by the courts. Congress can legislate only in those areas permitted by the Constitution. In passing the RFRA, Congress relied on its power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to adopt laws designed to enforce individual rights. Although the Court had on many occasions examined Congress' power under Section 5, it had not clearly articulated the limits on that authority.

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In 1998, the village of Stratton, Ohio, passes an ordinance designed to regulate canvassing and soliciting of its residents at their homes. The ordinance requires would-be canvassers to obtain a permit at no cost from the village. The ordinance requires canvassers to carry their permits when they go door-to-door and show their identification when asked by either the police or a resident. The ordinance imposes criminal penalties on those who fail to comply with this ordinance. In June 1999, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. and individual Jehovah Witnesses sue in federal court, seeking a declaration that the ordinance violates the First Amendment. They argue it infringes on their free-speech, free-press, free-association and free exercise of religion rights. They also argue that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it infringes on the right to engage in anonymous speech. In August 1999, U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. rules that the ordinance validly applies to the Jehovah's Witnesses. The judge determines that the plaintiffs were "canvassers" who went to homes for the purpose of "explaining their cause." The judge strikes down, or modifies, three portions of the ordinance. On Feb. 20, 2001, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the remaining portions of the ordinance in a 2-1 opinion. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 240 F.3d 553 (6th Cir. 2001). The panel majority determined that the ordinance was content-neutral and applied generally to everyone, rather than specifically targeting Jehovah Witnesses. The majority determined that the ordinance was designed to help prevent fraud and to protect residential privacy. The panel rejected the anonymity argument, finding that the canvassers already lose their anonymity when they reveal their physical identities at residents' doorsteps.

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A religious sect with origins in the Amazon Rainforest receives communion by drinking a sacramental tea, brewed from plants unique to the region, that contains a hallucinogen regulated under the Controlled Substances Act by the Federal Government. The Government concedes that this practice is a sincere exercise of religion, but nonetheless sought to prohibit the small American branch of the sect from engaging in the practice, on the ground that the Controlled Substances Act bars all use of the hallucinogen. The sect sued to block enforcement against it of the ban on the sacramental tea, and moved for a preliminary injunction.

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Respondent Hastings College of the Law (Hastings), a school within the University of California public-school system, denied “Registered Student Organization” (RSO) status to its chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS). Several benefits attend this school-approved status, including the use of school funds, facilities, and channels of communication, as well as Hastings’ name and logo. RSOs must abide by certain conditions, including the school’s Nondiscrimination Policy. Hastings interpreted its policy as to mandate acceptance of all comers: RSOs must allow any student to participate, become a member, or seek leadership positions, regardless of her status or beliefs. CLS, on the other hand, interpreted its bylaws to exclude from affiliation anyone who engages in “unrepentant homosexual conduct” or holds religious convictions different from those in the Statement of Faith. Hastings rejected CLS’s application for RSO status on the ground that the group’s bylaws did not comply with Hastings’ open-access policy because they excluded students based on religion and sexual orientation. CLS filed this suit for injunctive and declaratory relief under 42 U. S. C. §1983, alleging that Hastings’ refusal to grant the group RSO status violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion.

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Petitioner Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School is a member congregation of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The Synod classifies its school teachers into two categories: “called” and “lay.” “Called” teachers are regarded as having been called to their vocation by God. To be eligible to be considered “called,” a teacher must complete certain academic requirements, including a course of theological study. Once called, a teacher receives the formal title “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” “Lay” teachers, by contrast, are not required to be trained by the Synod or even to be Lutheran. Although lay and called teachers at Hosanna-Tabor generally performed the same duties, lay teachers were hired only when called teachers were unavailable. After respondent Cheryl Perich completed the required training, Hosanna-Tabor asked her to become a called teacher. Perich accepted the call and was designated a commissioned minister. In addition to teaching secular subjects, Perich taught a religion class, led her students in daily prayer and devotional exercises, and took her students to a weekly school-wide chapel service. Perich led the chapel service herself about twice a year. Perich developed narcolepsy and began the 2004–2005 school year on disability leave. In January 2005, she notified the school principal that she would be able to report to work in February. The principal responded that the school had already contracted with a lay teacher to fill Perich’s position for the remainder of the school year. The principal also expressed concern that Perich was not yet ready to return to the classroom. The congregation subsequently offered to pay a portion of Perich’s health insurance premiums in exchange for her resignation as a called teacher. Perich refused to resign. In February, Perich presented herself at the school and refused to leave until she received written documentation that she had reported to work. The principal later called Perich and told her that she would likely be fired. Perich responded that she had spoken with an attorney and intended to assert her legal rights. In a subsequent letter, the chairman of the school board advised Perich that the congregation would consider whether to rescind her call at its next meeting. As grounds for termination, the letter cited Perich’s “insubordination and disruptive behavior,” as well as the damage she had done to her “working relationship” with the school by “threatening to take legal action.” The congregation voted to rescind Perich’s call, and Hosanna-Tabor sent her a letter of termination. Perich filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that her employment had been terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC brought suit against Hosanna-Tabor, alleging that Perich had been fired in retaliation for threatening to file an ADA lawsuit. Perich intervened in the litigation. Invoking what is known as the “ministerial exception,” Hosanna-Tabor argued that the suit was barred by the First Amendment because the claims concerned the employment relationship between a religious institution and one of its ministers. The District Court agreed and granted summary judgment in Hosanna-Tabor’s favor. The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded. It recognized the existence of a ministerial exception rooted in the First Amendment, but concluded that Perich did not qualify as a “minister” under the exception. Held: 1. The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment bar suits brought on behalf of ministers against their churches, claiming termination in violation of employment discrimination laws. Pp. 6–15. (a) The First Amendment provides, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Familiar with life under the established Church of England, the founding generation sought to foreclose the possibility of a national church. By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the Religion Clauses ensured that the new Federal Government—unlike the English Crown—would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices. Pp. 6–10. (b) This Court first considered the issue of government interference with a church’s ability to select its own ministers in the context of disputes over church property. This Court’s decisions in that area confirm that it is impermissible for the government to contradict a church’s determination of who can act as its ministers. See Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. 679; Kedroff v. Saint Nicholas Cathedral of Russian Orthodox Church in North America, 344 U. S. 94 ; Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States and Canada v. Milivojevich, 426 U. S. 696 . Pp. 10–12. (c) Since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other employment discrimination laws, the Courts of Appeals have uniformly recognized the existence of a “ministerial exception,” grounded in the First Amendment, that precludes application of such legislation to claims concerning the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministers. The Court agrees that there is such a ministerial exception. Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions. The EEOC and Perich contend that religious organizations can defend against employment discrimination claims by invoking their First Amendment right to freedom of association. They thus see no need—and no basis—for a special rule for ministers grounded in the Religion Clauses themselves. Their position, however, is hard to square with the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations. The Court cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers. The EEOC and Perich also contend that Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872 , precludes recognition of a ministerial exception. But Smith involved government regulation of only outward physical acts. The present case, in contrast, concerns government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself. Pp. 13–15. 2. Because Perich was a minister within the meaning of the ministerial exception, the First Amendment requires dismissal of this employment discrimination suit against her religious employer. Pp. 15–21. (a) The ministerial exception is not limited to the head of a religious congregation. The Court, however, does not adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister. Here, it is enough to conclude that the exception covers Perich, given all the circumstances of her employment. Hosanna-Tabor held her out as a minister, with a role distinct from that of most of its members. That title represented a significant degree of religious training followed by a formal process of commissioning. Perich also held herself out as a minister by, for example, accepting the formal call to religious service. And her job duties reflected a role in conveying the Church’s message and carrying out its mission: As a source of religious instruction, Perich played an important part in transmitting the Lutheran faith. In concluding that Perich was not a minister under the exception, the Sixth Circuit committed three errors. First, it failed to see any relevance in the fact that Perich was a commissioned minister. Although such a title, by itself, does not automatically ensure coverage, the fact that an employee has been ordained or commissioned as a minister is surely relevant, as is the fact that significant religious training and a recognized religious mission underlie the description of the employee’s position. Second, the Sixth Circuit gave too much weight to the fact that lay teachers at the school performed the same religious duties as Perich. Though relevant, it cannot be dispositive that others not formally recognized as ministers by the church perform the same functions—particularly when, as here, they did so only because commissioned ministers were unavailable. Third, the Sixth Circuit placed too much emphasis on Perich’s performance of secular duties. Although the amount of time an employee spends on particular activities is relevant in assessing that employee’s status, that factor cannot be considered in isolation, without regard to the other considerations discussed above. Pp. 15–19. (b) Because Perich was a minister for purposes of the exception, this suit must be dismissed. An order reinstating Perich as a called teacher would have plainly violated the Church’s freedom under the Religion Clauses to select its own ministers. Though Perich no longer seeks reinstatement, she continues to seek frontpay, backpay, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. An award of such relief would operate as a penalty on the Church for terminating an unwanted minister, and would be no less prohibited by the First Amendment than an order overturning the termination. Such relief would depend on a determination that Hosanna-Tabor was wrong to have relieved Perich of her position, and it is precisely such a ruling that is barred by the ministerial exception. Any suggestion that Hosanna-Tabor’s asserted religious reason for firing Perich was pretextual misses the point of the ministerial exception. The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone. Pp. 19–20. (c) Today the Court holds only that the ministerial exception bars an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. The Court expresses no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits. Pp. 20–21. 597 F. 3d 769, reversed. Roberts, C. J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion. Alito, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Kagan, J., joined.

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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), which, as relevant here, requires specified employers’ group health plans to furnish “preventive care and screenings” for women without “any cost sharing requirements,” 42 U. S. C. §300gg–13(a)(4). Congress did not specify what types of preventive care must be covered; it authorized the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of HHS, to decide. Nonexempt employers are generally required to provide coverage for the 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including the 4 that may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus. Religious employers, such as churches, are exempt from this contraceptive mandate. HHS also effectively exempted religious nonprofit organizations with religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services. Under this accommodation, the insurance issuer must exclude contraceptive coverage from the employer’s plan and provide plan participants with separate payments for contraceptive services without imposing any cost-sharing requirements on the employer, its insurance plan, or its employee beneficiaries. In these cases, the owners of three closely held for-profit corporations have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point. In separate actions, they sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies (collectively HHS) under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause, seeking to enjoin application of the contraceptive mandate insofar as it requires them to provide health coverage for the four objectionable contraceptives.

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Petitioner Gregory Holt, also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad, is an Arkansas inmate and a devout Muslim who wishes to grow a 1⁄2-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. Petitioner’s objection to shaving his beard clashes with the Arkansas Department of Correc- tion’s grooming policy, which prohibits inmates from growing beards unless they have a particular dermatologi- cal condition. We hold that the Department’s policy, as applied in this case, violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat.

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