Church-State Watchdog Group Says High Court Was Right To Rule Against Christian Legal Society Affiliate
Americans United for Separation of Church and State praised today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding a policy at Hastings College of the Law that prohibits school-subsidized student clubs from engaging in religious discrimination.
“This decision is a huge step forward for fundamental fairness and equal treatment,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
Continued Lynn, “Religious discrimination is wrong, and a public school should be able to take steps to eradicate it. Today’s court ruling makes it easier for colleges and universities to do that.”
The case concerns a student chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Hastings, a division of the University of California. The club sued the San Francisco school after it was denied official university recognition and funding.
Hastings administrators said the CLS chapter violated school policies by denying membership and officer positions to non-Christians, gays and others who run afoul of CLS’s faith statement. (Although the club was denied official recognition and access to student activity fees, it was still permitted to meet on campus and advertise its events.)
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held that Hastings is within its rights to apply a non-discrimination policy to the Christian Legal Society.
“Simply stated, the Christian Legal Society sought to ignore rules that every other group complied with,” Lynn said. “The organization sought preferential treatment simply because it is religious. I’m pleased the court said no to that.”
AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez case along with the American Jewish Committee and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, asking the high court to rule against discrimination.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
pdf file SCOTUS ruling: http://www.au.org/media/press-releases/archives/2010/06/2010-6-28-supreme-court.pdf
pdf file AU amicus brief: http://www.au.org/media/press-releases/archives/2010/03/amicus-brief-in-christian.pdf