Big Labor to Catholic Colleges: Not Religious Enough to Avoid our Mandates

June 8th, 2011

The first amendment has been widely interpreted as mandating the seperation of church and state, as well as many succeeding court cases and tax codes that have sought to keep government out of people’s faiths and vice-versa. However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) thinks differently. Since this mandated legal separation prevents Catholic schools from complying with federal labor regulations, the NLRB came up with a plan to increase its pro-union clout in religious institutions: ruling some schools aren’t religious enough to be exempt.

On May 26, the Chicago branch of the NLRB ruled that St. Xavier University, a small college founded by the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, was “not sufficiently religious” to claim federal labor law exemptions. This is on the heels of a similar decision against Manhattan College in New York City, which was founded by the Christian brothers. That case has gone to the national board for an appeal, which is widely expected to be denied.

The case involving the Chicago university is expected to make its way to the First District Appeals Court which resulted in victories in 2002 and 2008 for religious organizations. In fact one Supreme Court case, NRLB v. Catholic Bishops of Chicago (1979) established that any NRLB oversight of the school is equal to an inquiry into the religiousness of it, and is therefore unconstitutional. Helping out the cause of the university is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s position that if a school declares itself a “religious educational institution”, that is all the government needs to know for it to be classified as such.

Yet the NRLB continues to push for religious litmus tests, despite the lack of legal authority to do so. The Constitution’s mandate of religious freedom means religion can’t interfere with the government, but the government can’t interfere with religion either. It is the duty of the courts to uphold the Constitution against all threats foreign and domestic. If other government agencies follow the NRLB’s lead in their war on universities, like if the Federal Reserve controlled the housing industry to protect their unconstitutional monetary policies, the Constitution would be rendered meaningless, and cronyism would run wild in Washington, if it hasn’t already.

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