Faculty Member Cited in U.S. Supreme Court Opinion

Chapman University Assistant Professor James Phillips’ work was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that sided with a Christian postal worker.

Phillips wrote a forthcoming article that he then summarized in an amicus brief he co-authored on behalf of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The court cited the portion of the brief summarizing Phillips’ research midway down on page 5 of the court’s opinion in Groff v. DeJoy.

The 9-0 decision clarified a 1977 precedent that said employers can deny religious accommodations if they impose more than a minimal cost to the business, rejecting that standard for a standard that requires substantial burdens before an employer can refuse to accommodate an employee’s religious needs.

The case is named for former U.S. Postal Service employee Gerald Groff, who sued after his request to not work on Sundays was denied.

Phillips’ teaching and research areas include constitutional law, law and religion, civil procedure, statutory interpretation and judicial behavior.