US Supreme Court reverses ruling that redefined ‘the Catholic Church’ in Puerto Rico

Monday, February 24, 2020

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Vice President of Appellate Advocacy and Senior Counsel John Bursch regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to reverse the Puerto Rico Supreme Court’s ruling in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan v. Feliciano,which allowed the government to determine the structure and administration of a religious organization:

“The U.S. Constitution protects every American’s right to exercise religious freedom, and central to that freedom is a church’s ability to decide its own structure without civil government intrusion. The U.S. Supreme Court properly vacated the Puerto Rico courts’ ill-advised attempt at church governance by deciding for themselves what constitutes ‘the Catholic Church’ in Puerto Rico. But the U.S. Supreme Court did so based on the Puerto Rico courts’ lack of jurisdiction in the matter and sent the case back to them for additional proceedings in light of that. Our country has an admirable history of restraining the government’s impulse to police and micromanage communities of faith, and we are confident that the Puerto Rico courts will now abide by this vital constitutional principle, which ADF highlighted in its friend-of-the-court brief and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas echoed in their concurrence to the high court’s order.”

In February 2019, ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case on behalf of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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