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School: The Paideia School

Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Opinion of the Court: Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders

Written by the-supremes-395

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Petitioner Albert Florence was arrested for failing to pay a fine, though it was later revealed that he had paid the fine in question. Upon being taken to a local jail, he was subjected to a  strip search and visual body-cavity search. After six days, he was transferred to another jail, where he was again strip searched. Both jails he entered had a policy of strip searching every incoming inmate. The court finds this policy unconstitutional, as it violates an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

The jails defend their policy by claiming that strip searches are the most effective way to ensure safety in the jail. While jail officials can look for illness and gang signs during strip searches, the primary purpose of the search is undoubtably to look for contraband. It is not wrong for the jail to want to stop weapons and other dangerous items from entering the facility, but we must also consider the rights of the individual. The Fourth Amendment guarantees: “The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…but upon probable cause…”. The key phrase is “probable cause”, which the jails lacked in the case of Mr. Florence. Of course, there are many individuals who are brought into the jail, such as those arrested for violent crimes or felonies, who the jail is constitutionally allowed to search, because factors such as cause for arrest and previous behavior can justify probable cause. Mr. Florence, however, was arrested for not paying a fine, and he complied with officers. In cases such as his, there is no suspicion to justify a search, particularly one as invasive and demeaning as a strip search, and therefore Mr. Florence is entitled to his right to be free from unreasonable searches. Surely, the same is true for many others who commit misdemeanors or other minor offenses. Do we have any reason to suspect a person who runs a red light of concealing contraband? You simply can’t take every speeder on the road and ask them to submit to a strip search, because there is no probable cause.

The court recognized the need for probable cause in Safford Unified School District v. Redding, when it declared the strip search of a 13 year old based on an unconfirmed tip unconstitutional. Mr. Florence was only as suspicious as the average person on the street, and if the average pedestrian is free from suspicionless search, Mr. Florence should be similarly protected. He does not lose his rights simply because he may not have paid a traffic fine. The court was clear in Brown v. Plata that prisoners still retained their rights, even after arrest. The court held that overcrowded jails had to release prisoners, because the prisoners’ rights must be honored, even though released inmates could pose a danger to the public. The same is true for minor offenders who could bring in contraband, but are unlikely to. Applying the logic of Brown v. Plata to this case, it is clear that the rights of the incoming inmate are not overshadowed by any possibility that he or she could harm inmates already in the general jail population.

In Bell v. Wolfish, the court held that jails were allowed to strip search inmates after prearranged, supervised visits. The major difference in that case was that inmates could make prior arrangements with their visitors in an attempt to obtain contraband. Most people, however, do not expect to be arrested, so they don’t go to jail with the primary purpose of bringing in contraband.

The defense also failed to show that blanket strip search policies increased jail security. Facts presented in oral arguments suggest that only 1 in 64,000 minor offenders bring contraband into jails. Clearly, the jails do not have any evidence to show that their policy is necessary. In fact, similar policies are not employed at other jails, and in Amicus briefs, authorities such as the American Bar Association, the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and current and former corrections professionals find such policies demeaning to the individual and unnecessary for jail security.

For these reasons, the court finds that a blanket strip search policy is unconstitutional. Strip searches are highly invasive and must be justified by reasonable suspicion, which cannot be found for every inmate who enters a jail, and is particularly hard to find for minor offenders. Jails must outline policies that require reasonable suspicion for every strip search performed. In this way, we can fairly weigh the inmates’ rights to safety and privacy.

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Dissenting Opinion – Florence v. Board of Freeholders of Burlington County, New Jersey

Written by the-supremes-232

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

The Court overturned the opinion given by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and found in favor of Florence’s argument that the strip searches imposed by the jails were unconstitutional as they violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches as provided by the Fourth Amendment and applied to the states through the Fourteenth. The majority made this opinion based on many points, one of which is that the Fourth Amendment only protects reasonable searches, and such invasive searches as the ones which Florence had to suffer were not reasonable under the circumstances. He was stopped for a minor traffic violation and there was no suspicion that he was carrying any contraband. Therefore, searching for it in this manner was a violation of his rights. However, I submit that while there was no suspicion that Florence was carrying contraband, there was also no evidence that he was not carrying contraband. As the Court found in Brown v. Plata, prisoners have rights just as any other human beings. Included in these rights is the right to safety in the prison. To not check even minor offenders for contraband puts these men and women at unfair risk for harm. The majority then points to the fact that only about 1 in 64,000 minor offenders were found to carry contraband, but in a country that is built on the idea of protecting minorities, can we legitimately sacrifice the safety of those prisoners who may have been harmed by that one person’s contraband? We cannot if we wish to retain any sense of our national character. A blanket policy is also simply the most feasible and safe option. If we allow prison guards to decide on a case-by-case basis who should or should not be strip searched, we open the door to discrimination. This will lead to costly and time-consuming lawsuits.

In Bell v. Wolfish, we found that these strip searches were needed because there was ample time for the prisoners to plan to bring in contraband after a scheduled visit. The majority says that after an unexpected arrest, however, there is no time to plan to bring in contraband. People do try to get themselves arrested in protest, and while they would be brought in as minor offenders with seemingly no suspicion of contraband, they may very well have hidden something in order to cause chaos in the prison. Even somebody who was pulled over for a traffic violation, like Florence, may hide drugs on his person to avoid the police finding them. It is impossible to be sure either way, so the safest and fairest option is simply to strip search everyone. Also, this Court held constitutional a blanket policy regarding strip searches no more intrusive than the ones in the case in Powell v. Barrett. We found that there was no need for individualized suspicion if the prison could prove the need for a blanket policy, and in this case, in order to protect the prisoners as effectively as possible, a blanket policy is needed.

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Cost of Safety – Florence v. Board of Freeholders of Burlington County, New Jersey

Written by the-supremes-232

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

There has always been a struggle in trying to find a balance between safety and security. As we try harder and harder to protect people from danger, certain liberties and rights must be sacrificed in order to ensure this safety. This struggle has become a much larger issue in recent years. This is partially due to the increasing power of technology in the world. We can now use thermal imaging to determine if someone is, say, growing an illegal drug in his house. However, should the police be allowed to use this invasive technology in order to prevent the growth and sale of this illegal drug? If one says yes, then one must intrude on people’s right to privacy. If one says no, people’s safety may be put at risk. In fact, a court case over this very subject is in the works right now. The World Trade Center attacks have arguably had the greatest impact on this debate. These attacks have paralyzed this country with fear, and as a result, increased safety is now an imperative. Most people would rather feel secure than retain certain liberties. We now have increased security at airports, but this security often oversteps the thin line of protection and enters into the realm of discrimination and in some cases pure ridiculousness. People who may look as if they are Islamic or Arabic are often profiled and subjected to more security measures than others. This is unfair, and does little to actually prevent an attack. A few weeks ago, my father was rudely cautioned by a TSA worker to step back because he had moved about three inches past an invisible line, as if he could have caused some damage from there rather than a step back. People are easily frightened into calling for more security measures, but as a society, we should not allow these events to deprive us of our values, especially if these security measures do little to nothing to actually protect people from harm, as is often the case. Our liberty is very important, and as these events occur, we continue to take away more and more of it. Our completely assured safety is not worth the loss of the rights upon which the founding fathers built this country.

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everyone (dosen’t) get her day in court

Written by the-supremes-41

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

The argument that we should deny people a better form of justice due to the fact that a lot of people would take advantage of that offer is ludicrous. The entire premise of what they are saying relies on the notion that people would have to wait while the government files through various suits against prosecutors in order to be able to sue the government officials who did them wrong. However, without preventing absolute immunity, those same people wouldn’t be able to even have luxury of filing a suit in the first place. This issue played a major role in Briscoe v. LaHue, where the justices expressed major concern that the courts would be flooded with valueless suits. It is my belief that, although it is activist to overrule an existing precedent, this is a case where a little bit of activism is necessary, as in order to give justice to those who need to press suit, one must sometimes change a few opinions.

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Rehberg v. Paulk opinion

Written by the-supremes-41

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Yes. In this case, although what the District Attorney’s assistant Steven Paulk did was wrong, the Supreme Court can find no way of overturning his constitutional right to absolute immunity from suit involving his occupation. Section 1983 clearly states that witnesses have immunity from suit, and so do government officials. When one applies this statement, it becomes clear that Paulk was representing the government when he appeared before the Grand Jury, as they saw him as the assistant to the District Attorney. As he was also a witness before this Grand Jury, it is clear that for two different reasons he is immune from suit.

Additionally, voting that government immunities do not apply in this case would be a completely activist decision, not only because it violates a law, but also because it violates numerous precedents previously decided by the Supreme Court. One example of a potentially broken precedent is that of Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325 (1983). In this case, almost an exact replica of Rehberg v. Paulk, a police officer lied before a Grand Jury, and like Paulk was sued for it. The court ruled that any witness is immune from suit, setting a precedent of witness immunity. In Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. ___ (2009), the court set a precedent that any officer of the law is immune from suit, even if he was not necessarily operating under the actions of a prosecutor. Lastly, while some may argue that in Kalina v. Fletcher 522 U.S. 118 (1997), because they ruled that lying under an affidavit is not protected by section 1983, neither is lying if front of a Grand Jury. I counter this by pointing out that Paulk did not lie under any affidavit, and there is a clear distinction between an affidavit, and a Grand Jury.

Thus, I voted that it is unconstitutional to allow this suit to go through despite Paulk’s immunity. It would be a vote that violates precedents, violates laws, and sets a court precedent for Judicial Activism.

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Section 1983

Written by the-supremes-41

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Section 1983 clearly states that all Government officials are responsible for depriving any citizen of their rights. Thus, the question does indeed arise as to why it is ruled that some officials are completely immune from suit. In order to answer this question, we must dive not into ideal conditions of a utopian world, but rather into the realistic world we see today. If some officials in the Government were not granted absolute immunity from suit, they would be unable, if not too afraid to, do their jobs. For example, President Obama would receive well over thousands of warrantless suits from people who are either politically opposed to, or who are not benefiting from his policies. Police officers would be too afraid to make any arrests in which the offender resists, lest they hurt the offender, and get sued. Without the immunity of some Government officials, the wheels of justice would be unable to turn, due to the fact that nobody would be able to do the jobs they were elected or hired to do.

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MBZ v. Clinton opinion

Written by the-supremes-41

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

It is my belief that it is indeed the job of the Supreme Court to decide matters of policy jurisdiction. Even if it holds that this is a political case, that argument is proven completely irrelevant, as Article 3 Section 2 of the Constitution clearly states “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution.” As the question of what branch of government should take jurisdiction over a rare case where it lies within both of their powers listed in the Constitution (It falls within congressional powers in Article 1, Section 8 in the commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause. The case also falls under Executive rule with Article 2, Section 3, Clause 3,) thus, making it a case where the power must be assigned, lest there continues to be bickering between different branches of government over who holds this power.

Within the decision of whether or not Clinton had the right to do what she did, it is my belief, and the belief of the court that she did, due to the fact that if she did not, it would have violated previous precedents, and overextended the powers of the executive office when it comes to foreign affairs. In Medellin v. Texas, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Republic of Iraq v Beatty, the Supreme Court voted against either excessive power in foreign affairs, or even more specifically in Medellin, against foreign affair power rubbing off on domestic affair power. Thus, we decided that we do indeed have the power to make a decision in this case, and we vote that Clinton does have the power to mark the birth certificates however she wants.

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Administrative Concerns

Written by the-supremes-a2

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Strip searches should not be allowed just because other searches are too difficult or costly but should be allowed, regardless of the severity of the crime, in cases where someone is being put into a general prison population. Some argue that subjecting someone to a suspicion-less strip search when they are arrested denies their rights, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. This is true. In the case Florence v. The Board of Chosen Free Holders, Albert Florence was wrongfully arrested and subjected to a strip search. Yes, the search was intrusive but it was necessary in order to uphold equal protection of the laws as granted in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The issue at hand in this case, is that Florence was wrongfully detained. However this fact alone should not lead to a broad opinion dictating that everyone who comes to prison for a minor charge should not be subjected to a strip search before being put into the general population. The reality is that a blanket policy must be used strictly for the protection of those who are a part of the facility and those who work there.

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Social Cost

Written by the-supremes-a2

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Realistically, prisoners who have not shown that they can harm others should not be held to the same standard as dangerous people who can harm others, but everyone regardless of criminal background has to be treated the same. Is it likely someone with no criminal record could be a mass murderer? No. Can someone with no criminal record be a mass murderer? Yes. As Justice Kennedy highlights in the oral arguments, generalization must occur to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including the person obtained and subjected to the search. There is always a possibility the person could be dangerous. In the case Florence v. The Board of Chosen Free Holders, many suggest Albert Florence was arrested due to the fact that he was African-American. Racial and religious profiling may occur in these circumstances, but it seems that this is the only way to make conditions safe for all parties.

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Amicus Brief

Written by the-supremes-76

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

My client is a supporter of a victims’ rights group that wants to make it easier to sue police officers that give false testimony to a grand jury that results in citizens’ unjust arrests.  Police officers, since they are government officials, have absolute immunity given to them by the Absolute Immunity Clause in Section 1983.  But if an officer is the complaining witness in the case than they only have qualified immunity.  That precedent was set in Malley v. Briggs when a Rhode Island state trooper unjustly arrested an innocent citizen by submitting an arrest warrant, complaints, and affidavits to a judge.  The Court decided that government officials who act as complaining witnesses are only entitled to qualified immunity.  So in this case my client strongly believes that Paulk acted as a complaining witness and issued false subpoenas, which violated Reyburg’s Fourth Amendment Rights.  In Section 1983, it states that: “Every person who… subjects… any citizen of the United States…to the deprivation of any rights… shall be liable to the party injured…” In this case Reyburg’s Fourth Amendment Rights were violated and he has the right to sue Paulk because Paulk acted as a complaining witness. My client would like to make sure the Supreme Court makes the right and just decision in this case.

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Congressional Intent

Written by the-supremes-76

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

There are two ways of viewing the Constitution and laws made by Congress.  Judges can either look at the original intent of that document or believe that the Constitution and laws are living documents.  If they look at the original intent or “legislative intent” of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 passed by Congress, they’re trying to imagine what that Congress meant 140 years ago and basing their decision on that meaning.  Interpreting laws this way is good and bad.  It’s good that the judges are practicing judicial restraint, a type of judicial interpretation where judges must base their decisions only on the text of laws.  But it’s bad that they’re not taking into consideration modifying their interpretation with modern views.  I think it is important for judges to adapt the law to what they think applies to the modern societal, ethical, and economic standards of today.  That’s why I think it’s better for judges to look at the Constitution and laws made by Congress as living documents.  The Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers in such a broad way that I think they meant it to be interpreted as the judges see fit for their time period.  This way is more democratic because it allows the judges to make progressive decisions that match how the majority of people in the United States of America think today.

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Friend of The Court

Written by the-supremes-2d2

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Friend of The Court

I represent a prison’s rights group that cares primarily about prisoner privacy and treatment. We support Albert Florence in his suit against the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County, New Jersey. His 4th Amendment rights of no “unreasonable searches or seizures” was violated by the two strip searches thatFlorencewas subjected to. He had committed a minor offence for which he should  never have been arrested.Florencehad already paid the fine for the ticket two years ago. Prisoners likeFlorenceshould not be subjected to such treatment.

Albert Florence was given a second strip search upon entering the Essex County Jail. He was strip searched and made to squat and cough in front of the officer. It is inconceivable to think thatFlorencewould need to go through another strip search after the earlier strip search. How could he have gotten contraband during the transportation between two jails? The standard protocol for entering both jails was a strip search, but the New Jersey Law did not state that the jails had to have such intrusive searches.

No prisoners should be put through such unreasonable searches for minor offences. Showering, squatting, and coughing in front of an officer is degrading and demeaning. Prisoners who have not committed major offenses in the first place do not deserve such intrusive searches.

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Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Written by the-supremes-9e

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states “No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” (title 42, chapter 126, subchapter 1, section 12112 a). Because Perich’s narcolepsy was under control, and therefore did not interfere with her teaching abilities, the aforementioned statement stands in her favor. Because of this act, it should not matter who her employer was, if she performed religious duties, or if she was an ordained minister. Religious organizations could take advantage of the deference given by courts. Technically, a religious institution could discriminate against individuals who apply for jobs based on skin color, sexual orientation, disabilities, or religious beliefs. The said individual could not challenge the institution based on the deference granted by the court, and therefore would suffer unnecessary and illegal abuse by discrimination.

 

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Eliminating the Ministerial Exception

Written by the-supremes-276

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

The people of the United States of America would benefit if Congress amended the Americans with Disabilities Act, adding the proposed “this law shall apply to all employers, including churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, religious organizations, and religious schools”.  While this exact wording may be too blatantly pointed at religion, the general concept and idea is definitely necessary.  Congress could further discuss better wordings that provided the same end result while holding true to the original intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to prevent discrimination on the basis of a person having a disability from happening in this country.  The Americans with Disabilities Act should apply to all citizens of the United States across all fields of work, just as all guaranteed rights in Amendments apply to all citizens.  Amending the Americans with Disabilities Act should be done in such a way that it is clear to all persons that discrimination, especially in the workplace, should and will not be tolerated by anybody.

            Even in religious professions, the ministerial exception, created to resolve conflicts between government regulation and First Amendment Freedom of Religion, is not an excuse for discrimination.  The ministerial exception is primarily so that religious employers can fire someone who they do not feel should be employed in their place of worship or who they disagree with.  Being disabled is not a valid reason to disagree with someone nor is it morally correct to discriminate against them based on their disability.

            In cases like Hosanna-Taber Church vs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the only validation for this firing would be that due to her disability the employee cannot perform her job.  This would need to be treated like any other teacher firing, as if she taught in a public, non-religious school.  This would not be discrimination because the employer’s treatment and consideration of their employee would not be any different than if he or she was not disabled.  According to the definition of discrimination, “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than an individual or merit” this regulated process would not be discrimination and therefore would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act or any individual rights.  For all these reasons, Congress should seriously consider discussing this change to the Americans with Disabilities Act to better the lives of all citizens of the United States of America.

DEFINITION OF DISCRIMINATION:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination?__utma=1.1217473346.1267572879.1286229699.1286241075.120&__utmb=1.3.9.1320354249046&__utmc=1&__utmx=-&__utmz=1.1320354249.121.10.utmcsr=google%7Cutmccn=(organic)%7Cutmcmd=organic%7Cutmctr=discrimination%7Cutmcct=/l.php&__utmv=-&__utmk=201719313

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Conflict between the Courts

Written by the-supremes-30a

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

When multiple circuit courts interpret a federal law differently and come to decisions that contradict each other, it is not equitable. Federal laws are meant to apply to all US citizens equally. However, if they are interpreted differently, it is often not equal or fair. Although courts are allegedly non-political, it is evident that judges do not always disregard their political views when reviewing a case. A judge’s political bias often seems to influence his interpretation of a law. It is not fair that depending on the court you are tried in your case could be decided differently than an identical case before a different judge.

The solution to this problem is the Supreme Court. When circuit courts are divided on a specific issue, like in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the Supreme Court’s ruling resolves the issue. Once the Court releases its decision, that ruling is the nationwide interpretation of the law, which thus applies to all citizens equally. Unlike Hosanna-Tabor where the district courts were split pretty evenly, sometimes there is a clear majority of how the circuit courts rule. In resolving a conflict between the courts, the Supreme Court should not take into consideration how many courts supported each side. The justices should focus on the words and meaning of the law themselves.

 

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The Validity of Signing Statements

Written by the-supremes-a2

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

Signing Statements are very much so unconstitutional. According to article I, section 7, clause 2 of the Constitution:

Every bill which shall have passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which is shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

To enforce this section of our Constitution, the President should not be permitted to say, “I agree with every piece of this bill except this specific part” and still be able to approve it. If a Signing Statement is needed, the most reasonable solution is for the bill to be returned and reconstructed so that a statement isn’t needed. In doing so, one is able to preserve the validity of the bill itself and at the same time, benefit those who encounter the bill in situations like M.B.Z. v. Clinton. With this being considered, the Court would not even have to contemplate whether or not they have the power to declare the President has acted unconstitutionally by not enforcing part of a law pursuant to a Signing Statement. Although, if Signing Statements are considered constitutional, there has to be some type of guidelines associated with them. It is important to note that Signing Statements have been around for a long time. Several sources trace them all the way back to James Monroe. The controversy associated with Signing Statements, which is particularly prevalent with Signing Statements issued by President Bush, lies in the content of the statements.

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Free Exercise Clause – The Ministerial Exception

Written by the-supremes-1e9

School: The Paideia School
Class: The Supremes
Grade: 11th

The ministerial exception says that places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, etc. have the freedom of hiring and firing their religious ministers without cause. This contributes to their “free exercise” of their religion, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

In my opinion, this is a good idea, as it truly promises religious freedom, although there is a problem with this, as we see in the case of Hosanna Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC. What constitutes a minister? The biggest hole in the ministerial exception is that it doesn’t define what is and isn’t a minister. The court has had to decide this in past cases.

If we look at precedents relating to the ministerial exception, we can see previous decisions on what the ministerial exception really means. This is the best way to set a “standard” for what a minister is, but as of now, we don’t have a “standard”.

Because there is no standard, we have cases like Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC. The lack of a standard equates to lawsuits from former employees who don’t think the ministerial exception applied to them. This causes problems in the religious institution, and doesn’t help them exercise their religion freely. Without a clear basis for the ministerial exception, it does nothing but cause problems for the religious institutions and their employees.

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