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In NLRB v. Catholic Bishop, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that coverage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not extend to lay teachers employed by church-operated schools which include both religious and secular subjects in their curriculums. As will be seen, this conclusion was reached not on traditional first amendment analysis, but instead on narrow statutory construction.

Prior to the decision in Catholic Bishop, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) had long wrestled with jurisdictional issues pertaining to nonprofit educational institutions. The 1951 decision in Trustees of Columbia University made firm the Board's choice to refuse jurisdiction over these institutions. However, in 1970, the Board overruled Columbia, and in Cornell University held that the policies of the NLRA would best be effectuated by asserting jurisdiction over nonprofit institutions of higher education.