CHICAGO, Ill. — The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a decision that protects the freedom of religious schools to choose leaders who uphold their core religious teachings.

The decision upheld the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in the case of Starkey v. Roncalli High School and Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Lynn Starkey, a former Roncalli school counselor, filed the lawsuit in November 2018 after school administrators decided not to renew her contract on the grounds that her same-sex marriage violated Catholic teachings.

In August of last year, the U.S. District Court judge ruled that ministerial exception applied in this case. This exception protects religious organizations under the First Amendment by barring legal claims by employees who carry out religious functions.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Thursday, citing Supreme Court decisions in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Evangelical School v. EEOC, which protect churches and religious institutions from government interference.

Along with affirming the previous district court decision, the appeals court also ruled that the lawsuit must be dismissed because the Constitution forbids the government from interfering with a religious school’s selection of who will pass on the faith to the next generation.

CBS4 has reached out to the attorney for Starkey and will update this story with any response received.