July 11, 2020

On Wednesday, July 8, Catholic Law Professor Mark Rienzi won two religious liberty cases when the Supreme Court ruled broadly in favor of the religious rights of employers in both.

The first opinion was on Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru in which the Court considered the question of whether two teachers could sue for discrimination after Catholic schools did not renew their contracts. The decision, in favor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, holds that First Amendment protection keeps judges from interfering in the internal workings of religious institutions and the schools are free to choose and dismiss employees who performed religious work without government interference.

The second ruling in favor of religious liberty came in the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania case, regarding the state’s attempt to block religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The decision allows for the administration to make changes to the Affordable Care Act and allow for religious organizations to opt-out of providing no-cost birth control coverage.

Through his work as president of Becket, Rienzi has acted as counsel for both Our Lady of Guadalupe School and Little Sisters of the Poor. Rienzi considers the two 7-2 decisions broad wins for religious liberty saying, “the decisions weren’t close calls.” About his work on the cases, Rienzi added, “I’m pretty sure I will never get two Supreme Court wins on the same day again in my life. I am really excited about the wins and about the work I get to do to protect the freedom of religious people and religious institutions.”