The NLRB’s Assault on Religious Liberty
by Patrick J. Reilly
A Policy Series Guided by the Principles of Ex corde Ecclesiae
STUDIES IN CATHOLIC
About the Author
Patrick Reilly is the founder and president of Te Cardinal Newman Society. He has written numerous articles and is a frequent commentator on Catholic higher educa-tion for the media. He is a co-editor of
Te Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College
Te Enduring Nature of the Catholic University
Newman’s Idea of a Uni-versity: Te American Response
. He has served as editor and researcher for the CapitalResearch Center, executive director of Citizens for Educational Freedom, higher edu-cation analyst for the U.S. House of Representatives education committee, programanalyst for the Postsecondary Division of the U.S. Department of Education, andmedia consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
When an acting regional director of the National Labor RelationsBoard (NLRB) concluded in January 2011 that Manhattan College, aChristian Brothers institution, was not sufficiently religious to claimexemption from federal labor law, there was an outcry from educa-tors and religious liberty advocates.But most media reports missed the point, portraying the case asa sudden turn against the First Amendment rights of religious col-leges. In fact, the NLRB has claimed jurisdiction over Catholic col-leges and universities for decades, forcing institutions to recognizefaculty unions despite the potential interference with their ability toenforce their religious missions.In the Manhattan College case, the NLRB has an opportunity tocorrect this abuse. The Board’s ruling could free Catholic collegesand universities from NLRB jurisdiction, or it could pose a signifi-cant setback for the religious liberty of Catholic educators. It coulddetermine the future of faculty unions at Catholic colleges and uni-versities. And it could impact other college relations with the fed-eral government if the same First Amendment concerns are appliedto requests for exemption from federal law.Because the evolution of the NLRB’s reasoning is essential to
un-derstanding the impact of the Manhattan College case, this papersummarizes key NLRB and federal court decisions since the 1979Supreme Court ruling in
NLRB v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago,et al
Rev. Richard Dufeld, Cong. Orat.
John Henry Cardinal Newman Distinguished Fellow
Anne B. Hendershott, Ph.D.
John Paul II Fellow in Student Development
Kimberly C. Shankman, Ph.D.
St. Thomas Aquinas Fellow in Academic Afairs
Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.
St. Ignatius o Loyola Fellow in Catholic Identity
Cardinal Raymond Burke, D.D., J.C.D.
Preect, Supreme Tribunal o the Apostolic Signatura
John P. Hittinger, Ph.D.
Proessor o Philosophy; Center or Thomistic StudiesUniversity o St. Thomas (Houston)
Rev. Leonard A. Kennedy, C.S.B., Ph.D.
Former President, Assumption College,Univ. o Windsor; and St. Thomas MoreCollege, Univ. o Saskatchewan
Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., Ph.D.
Associate Proessor o Philosophy,Fordham University
Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, S.T.D.
Vice President or Catholic Identity and Mission,Mount St. Mary’s University
Hon. Kenneth D. Whitehead
Former Assistant Secretary or PostsecondaryEducation, U.S. Department o Education
Cardinal Newman SocietyExecutive Staf
Patrick J. Reilly
President and CEO
Thomas W. Mead
Executive Vice President
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