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Court to decide whether Catholic school can be sued

The Michigan Supreme Court says religious schools cannot claim a blanket exemption from being sued for violating anti-discrimination laws.

A family sued a Catholic high school in Oakland County. They say the school violated an anti-discrimination law by refusing to admit their daughter because of a learning disability. Among other things, the school argued its operations are protected by religious freedom rights.

“The Michigan Supreme Court said, no. This has to be determined on a case by case basis.” said Nick Roumel, an attorney for the family. He says the decision means he’ll get to argue before lower courts that this case has nothing to do with religious practices, and the law protecting people with disabilities should apply. 

The school said it was protected from the lawsuit because it’s a religious institution. The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court to determine whether religious rights are at stake.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.