By denying certiorari, the Supreme Court let stand a 9th Circuit ruling that affirmed World Vision’s right to fire employees who didn’t share the organization’s religious views. For my money, this is an important tea leaf to read before the Court takes up the Hosanna-Tabor case. Consider, for example, this point from the 9th Circuit’s decision:
The majority opinion refused to address certain thorny questions, such as whether or not World Vision’s humanitarian work is an inherently religious activity. Judge O’Scannlain’s opinion said that it would be “constitutionally troublesome” for the court to attempt to decide what sort of activity is religious and what is not. When the employees alleged that World Vision is not a religious group because it offers aid to people regardless of their own religion, O’Scannalin chose to accept World Vision’s own assertion that “providing humanitarian aid to all in need, regardless of religious belief, is a tenet of its faith.”
To be sure, there’s a difference between refusing to question an organization’s understanding of its mission and refusing to question an organization’s characterization of a job; at the very least, the laws at issue are different. But, nonetheless, there is some indication here that some members of the Court will respect, as they should, a religious organization’s employment decisions.
Now if only the Obama Administration would demonstrate a similar respect for religious freedom.