CORPORATION OF PRESIDING BISHOP v. AMOS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
86-179
Appellee 
Amos
Appellant 
Corporation of Presiding Bishop
Consolidation 
No. 86-401, United States v. Amos et al.
Advocates
(on behalf of appellants in No. 86-179)
(Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States in No. 86-401)
(on behalf of the appellees in both cases)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

Two affiliate organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operated Deseret Gymnasium, a non-profit facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. These affiliates were the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CPB) and the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (COP). Arthur Frank Mayson worked for the Gymnasium for sixteen years as an engineer, but CPB and COP fired him when he failed to obtain a certificate authorizing him to attend the Church's religious temples. He filed a class-action lawsuit in District Court alleging that CPB and COP violated Section 703 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by dismissing him from nonreligious employment because he did not satisfy certain religious conditions. In response, CPB and COP claimed that Section 702 of the Act, as amended in 1972, exempts religious organizations from the Act's ban in Section 703 on religious discrimination. Mayson then claimed that Section 702 violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause by allowing religious organizations to practice discriminatory hiring for nonreligious jobs. The District Court agreed that Mayson's job was nonreligious. It also held that Section 702 violated the Establishment Clause because it allowed religious adherents exclusive participation in nonreligious activities.

Question 

Does Section 702 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 violate the Establishment Clause by allowing religious employers to choose employees for nonreligious jobs based on their religion?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Corporation Of Presiding Bishop, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

No. Justice Byron R. White delivered the opinion for a unanimous court. The Establishment Clause forbids the government from using state mechanisms to advance a religion. Section 702 passed a three-part test the Court established in Lemon v. Kurtzman for determining whether a state action violates the Establishment Clause. To be valid, the state action must first promote a "secular legislative purpose." The Court found that Section 702 satisfied this criterion, since it ensured that the government would not determine for religious organizations what they could count as religious activities. Second, the state action can neither "advance nor inhibit religion." The Court held that for a violation of this standard to occur, the "Government itself must have advanced religion through its own activities and influence." In this case, the government allowed for a church to advance its religion but did not directly intervene. Third, the state action must not "entangle" church and state. By allowing religious organizations to employ whom they pleased, they state became less entangled in religion.

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CORPORATION OF PRESIDING BISHOP v. AMOS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_86_179>.
CORPORATION OF PRESIDING BISHOP v. AMOS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_86_179 (last visited July 21, 2014).
"CORPORATION OF PRESIDING BISHOP v. AMOS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 21, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_86_179.