Saturday, September 28, 2019

DOJ Backs Catholic Archdiocese In Firing of Teacher For Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest (full text) in an Indiana state trial court in Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc., (IN Super Ct., 9/27/2019).  In the suit, a teacher in a Catholic school in Indianapolis claims that the Archdiocese wrongly interfered with his contractual relationship with the school when the Archdiocese ordered the school to dismiss the teacher because of his public same-sex marriage. (See prior posting.)  DOJ argued that the First Amendment requires the court to dismiss the teacher's complaint:
The First Amendment bars this action for at least two independent reasons. First, Plaintiff’s action seeks to penalize an indisputably expressive association—the Archdiocese—for deciding which schools may identify as Catholic under its associational umbrella.....
Second, Plaintiff seeks to embroil this Court in a dispute over the Archdiocese’s application of Catholic law, in violation of the church-autonomy doctrine.
A Justice Department press release announced its filing with the court.