Re "The Ministerial Exception," (Jan. 13): Your editorial makes only a passing reference to a footnote that is actually a key component of the Supreme Court's decision in Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In that footnote, the court clarified the ministerial exception is an "affirmative defense," meaning that employees of religious organizations do have the opportunity to bring discrimination cases and that the burden is on the religious organization to prove that the exception should apply. Prior to this decision, in some jurisdictions employees could not even get through the courthouse door.
The challenge for lower courts going forward will be to assess such discrimination claims fairly, without being overly deferential to religious organizations. It would have been helpful if the court had provided more guidance on which employees should and should not be covered by the ministerial exception, but courts do not address hypothetical cases. The fact that the court specifically asserted that district courts have the power to hear claims like the one Cheryl Perich advanced is important and should not be lightly dismissed.
The Anti-Defamation League
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