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Supreme Court Supported Religious Freedom in 2023

Threats to religious freedom are becoming commonplace, especially as progressive policies brook no dissent. But there is hope. This year showed us, once again, this Supreme Court is protecting America’s first freedom. Take, for example, the Court’s unanimous ruling this summer that federal law requires covered employers to accommodate religious exercise unless doing so involves a substantial increase in the cost of doing business.

That’s right. The decision was unanimous.

The case involved Gerald Groff, a former mailman from rural Pennsylvania. Groff is a Sabbatarian Christian who was told he must work on Sundays even though he had been promised respect for his reverence of the Sabbath.

He left his job after the U.S. Postal Service struck a deal with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays and wouldn’t allow his work schedule to accommodate his religious practices.

Groff went to court, claiming that the post office’s refusal to accommodate him violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law barring discrimination in the workplace, requires employers to accommodate an employee’s religious observance or practice unless it places “an undue hardship on the conduct of an employer’s business.”

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court, clarified that “Title VII requires an employer that denies a religious accommodation to show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”

This, Alito explained, is also consistent with the meaning of “undue hardship” in ordinary speech.

Alito also importantly addressed some “recurring issues” to guide covered employers moving forward. “Impacts on coworkers are relevant only to the extent those impacts go on to affect the conduct of the business,” he noted. And animosity to a particular religion or even to religion in general “cannot be considered ‘undue.’”

In another case decided this summer, the Court ruled the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee protects the right of artists to create consistent with their beliefs.

The victor, Lorie Smith, is a Christian website designer and owner of Denver-based 303 Creative. Smith wanted to expand her business to create custom wedding websites — but only weddings between a man and a woman.

She worried that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation or announcing an intent to do so, would force her to create websites for same-sex weddings.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the Court’s 6-3 majority, observed of CADA, “Laws along these lines have done much to secure the civil rights of all Americans. But in this particular case Colorado does not just seek to ensure the sale of goods and services on equal terms. It seeks to use the law to compel an individual to create speech she does not believe.”

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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