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Monday, June 28, 2010

Supreme Court: UC-Hastings Can Require Christian Legal Society to Admit Gays/Lesbians to Receive School Recognition

UC-Hastings Logo The Supreme Court today ruled, 5-4, that the UC-Hastings could constitutionally require the law school's Christian Legal Society to accept as members students who do not share CLS's religious views on sexual orientation. Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, No. 08-1371 (June 28, 2010). From Justice Ginsburg's majority opinion:

In the view of petitioner Christian Legal Society (CLS), an accept-all-comers policy impairs its First Amendmentrights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion by prompting it, on pain of relinquishing the advantages of recognition, to accept members who do not share the organization’s core beliefs about religion and sexual orientation. From the perspective of respondent Hastings College of the Law (Hastings or the Law School), CLS seeks special dispensation from an acrossthe-board open-access requirement designed to further thereasonable educational purposes underpinning the school’s student-organization program.

In accord with the District Court and the Court of Appeals, we reject CLS’s First Amendment challenge. Compliance with Hastings’ all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to thestudent-organization forum. In requiring CLS—in common with all other student organizations—to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits ofofficial recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations. CLS, it bears emphasis, seeksnot parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy. The First Amendment shields CLS against state prohibition of the organization’sexpressive activity, however exclusionary that activitymay be. But CLS enjoys no constitutional right to state subvention of its selectivity.

From Justice Alito's dissent:

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought thatwe hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decisionrests on a very different principle: no freedom for expres-sion that offends prevailing standards of political correct-ness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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That's like asking the chess club to include football players, girls softball to recruit the blind and handicapped, or the ACLU to welcome born-again Christians. Once again, political-correctness overrules common sense, decency, and fairness.

Posted by: Woody | Jun 28, 2010 1:06:52 PM

Maybe Christians should start applying to the ACLU-like groups on law school campuses, or even gay-rights groups, and work to obtain positions of leadership. I wonder if people on the other side will start crying unfair.

Posted by: Rick W | Jun 28, 2010 5:58:32 PM

I hope the commenters above recognize the flaws in their reasoning.

Posted by: Andrew B | Jun 29, 2010 7:59:02 AM