Tag Archives: christian legal society

More on the Supreme Court Ruling from Benson Hines

If you’re interested in learning a little more about the Supreme Court ruling I wrote about the other day, check out this post from Benson Hines.

His has a bit more information/explanation, as well as useful links.


p.s. – has WordPress gone stupid? I can’t seem to resize images in the editor anymore, and all my previous posts with images in them have the pictures at full size now … any other WordPress bloggers know what’s going on? Am I the only one having this problem?

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Ruling in Supreme Court Case Could Have Negative Implications for Campus Ministry

Regular readers may remember two posts I made here and here regarding a Supreme Court case that could have major implications for traditional church-based campus ministries.

Today, the verdict is in, and the ruling didn’t go in the favor of religious organizations.

From the story posted on InsideHigherEd.com:

Anti-Bias Rules Upheld

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled today, 5-to-4, that public colleges and universities may require religious organizations seeking recognition or funds as campus groups to comply with anti-bias rules.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by the Christian Legal Society, which challenged the anti-bias rules of the Hastings College of Law of the University of California. The Hastings policy bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and the Christian Legal Society bars gay people from becoming members. Hastings has argued – with backing from many in public higher education – that state universities have an obligation to adhere to strict anti-bias rules. But the Christian Legal Society – with backing from many religious groups – has argued that forcing it to comply with anti-bias rules amounts to infringing on its First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The Supreme Court’s decision, by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found that the law school’s policy was “a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access” that did not raise First Amendment issues in the way the Christian Legal Society argued.

The opinion explicitly rejects the argument of the Christian Legal Society that a public university has no business limiting its ability to be recognized and to apply its own rules to membership. “CLS’s analytical error lies in focusing on the benefits it must forgo while ignoring the interests of those it seeks to fence out: Exclusion, after all, has two sides,” the decision says. “Hastings, caught in the crossfire between a group’s desire to exclude and students’ demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership.”

A dissent, by Justice Samuel Alito, blasted the decision, saying that it set a principle of “no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.”

Many public colleges and universities have anti-bias policies similar to those of Hastings, so a ruling for the Christian Legal Society would have forced changes at many institutions. The issue has been particularly intense at public law schools (where the Christian Legal Society has sought recognition) and at undergraduate institutions with Greek systems (when Christian fraternities have sought recognition). Some public colleges and universities – faced with legal threats by supporters of the Christian Legal Society – have changed their policies to exempt religious groups, and those institutions could conceivably now reconsider.

Read the full story here.

We’re not exactly sure what this will mean at most universities yet, but if there are any implications for traditional campus ministry at all they will most likely be negative.

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Supreme Court Case Has Implications for Campus Ministry

Regular readers may remember this post I made about a court battle whose verdict could have major implications for campus ministry.

A Christian student organization at a local San Francisco law school was barred for refusing to admit non-Christians. This resulted in a lawsuit being filed, and the case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

Here’s the story from The Associated Press:

Court splits sharply on campus Christian argument

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices seemed to split sharply on whether a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group because it won’t let gays or non-Christians join.

The court heard arguments from the Christian Legal Society, which wants recognition from the Hastings College of the Law. Lower courts threw out a lawsuit trying to force the school to make it a campus organization.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito questioned the school’s lawyer sharply, saying that being forced to admit someone who doesn’t share their beliefs was a threat to the group. But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor pressed the group’s lawyer on notion that if they can ban gays, other groups can legally ban women and minorities.

The story continues:

Lawyers for the student group say it’s only fair that groups with different viewpoints are treated equitably by university officials.

“In an earlier era, public universities frequently attempted to bar gay rights groups from recognized student organization status on account of their supposed encouragement of what was then illegal behavior,” Michael McConnell, a society lawyer, said in court papers. “The courts made short shrift of those policies.” McConnell argues: “The shoe is now on the other foot in much of academia. The question here is whether such groups as CLS will receive comparable First Amendment protection.”

The California university said it requires all registered student organizations to be nondiscriminatory if they want to operate on campus, regardless of viewpoint.

Groups that support gay rights “cannot exclude students who believe homosexuality is morally wrong any more than CLS is permitted to exclude students who believe it is not,” university lawyer Gregory Garre said in court papers.

Read the full story here.

So what do you think?

Should the officers of the Young Republicans Club be forced to admit registered Democrats to their organization and even allow them to serve as officers? Should the campus NAACP group be forced to admit skinheads? Should the Muslim student organization be forced to accept membership applications from those who hate Islam?

I hope common sense prevails in this case … we’ll see.

If it doesn’t, all student organizations – not just the Christian ones – will be legally vulnerable to abuse.

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