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Indiana Supreme Court to hear case of former Cathedral High School teacher fired by archdiocese

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear the case of an Indianapolis teacher who says he was fired by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis because of his same-sex marriage. 

The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments at 9 a.m. in the case of Joshua Payne-Elliott, a former teacher at Cathedral High School.

Payne-Elliott worked as a teacher at Cathedral for 13 years before he was terminated in June 2019. He says the Archdiocese of Indianapolis ordered him to be fired because he’s in a same-sex marriage.

The archdiocese has argued the First Amendment’s freedom of religion prohibits the courts from reviewing its decisions.

The archdiocese moved to dismiss the case and, in May 2021, the Marion County Superior Court threw out Payne-Elliott’s case with prejudice, citing trial rules.

In November, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the Marion County court erred in dismissing Payne-Elliott’s case and reversed the lower court’s decision. The court reinstated Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese.

As a result, the archdiocese asked the state Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction over the appeal.

Payne-Elliott married Layton Payne-Elliott, a math teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, in 2017. When the archdiocese requested Layton Payne-Elliott be terminated from his role at Brebeuf, the school tried to split from the archdiocese. In June 2019, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson dropped the school from the archdiocese. The Vatican suspended that decision in September 2019 and returned Brebeuf to its status as a Catholic Jesuit school.