The Fontbonne Academy, a Catholic Girls Preparatory School, has just earned a place in American history. This past week, a Massachusetts court decided that religious institutions like Fontbonne had no right to “discriminate” against homosexuals by choosing not to hire them. The court said that the religious freedom of those attending the Fontbonne Academy was not as important as the “right” of a homosexual to work for the school.
As to the constitutional claim, the school argued that its expressive association rights would be infringed if forced to hire Barrett. The court, however, found that the school failed to meet two of the three standards set by the Supreme Court for such claims in its 2000 decision regarding the Boy Scouts. Although the academy does engage in “at least some form of expression,” meeting the first standard, the court found that there is “minimal risk” that Barrett’s hire would “significantly and seriously burden [Fontbonne’s] expression.”
Explaining that, Wilkins wrote:
Additionally, the court found that Massachusetts “has a compelling interest in prohibiting discrimination” — an interest “rarely stronger than in the employment context” — such that any burden on associational rights is outweighed by that interest.
Finally, the court found that Fontbonne’s free exercise claim — based on the “ministerial exception” — also failed. Looking at a 2012 Supreme Court case addressing the exception, the court found