First Amendment Protects Catholic Archidocese’s Pressuring Catholic School to Fire Same-Sex-Married Teacher
From a two-Justice opinion in the Indiana Supreme Court case Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc., written by Justice Geoffrey Slaughter and joined by Justice Mark Massa. Justices Christopher Goff and Derek Molter concurred in the judgment (without a separate opinion), and Chief Justice Loretta Rush didn’t participate, so Justice Slaughter’s opinion is not a majority, but it’s likely to prove influential:
Joshua Payne-Elliott sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese … for intentional interference with his contract and employment with Cathedral High School, a Catholic school in Indianapolis….
More specifically, he alleges as follows. Cathedral, founded in 1918, was initially owned by the archdiocese, which later turned over care of Cathedral to the Brothers of Holy Cross. Cathedral was incorporated in 1972 “for the sole purpose of maintaining and operating a Roman Catholic secondary school.” In substance, Cathedral’s bylaws state as follows: “the essential Holy Cross character of Cathedral as a Catholic high school shall be at all times maintained and [ ] a mission priority is to be an educator in the faith.” The archdiocese exercises “significant control” over Cathedral, including “its recognition of Cathedral as a Catholic school.”
From 2006 until June 2019, Cathedral employed Payne-Elliott as a world-language and social-studies teacher under a contract that was renewed annually. Payne-Elliott, “a homosexual male,” married his same-sex spouse in 2017; his spouse teaches at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, also in Indianapolis. Cathedral continued renewing Payne-Elliott’s teacher contract through May 2019 for the 2019–2020 school year. The archdiocese knew about Payne-Elliott’s contract with Cathedral.
In June 2019, Brebeuf announced that despite pressure from the archdiocese, it would not fire Payne-Elliott’s spouse. Brebeuf explained it declined the archdiocese’s directive that Brebeuf dismiss the spouse “due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage.” The next day, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson issued a decree stating that, after extensive dialogue between the archdiocese and Brebeuf, the archdiocese no longer recognizes Brebeuf as a Catholic institution. The decree states that, in accord with Canon 803 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Brebeuf, “by its own selection, can no longer use the name Catholic and will no longer be identified or recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Article from Reason.com