Monday, the Supreme Court will hear the case of a college club with a Christian mission that desires to restrict its leadership to Christians, not homosexual activists or atheists.
UPDATE 6/28/10: Supreme Court Ends Christian Witness on Campus
UPDATE 4/19/10: Supreme Court justices, during oral arguments, appear to split on case
-- From "Supreme Court to consider case against California law school" by Robert Barnes, Washington Post Staff Writer 4/18/10
In a case that carries great implications for how public universities and schools must accommodate religious groups, the University of California's Hastings College of the Law is defending its anti-discrimination policy against charges that it denies religious freedom.
The college, which requires officially recognized student groups to admit any Hastings student who wants to join, may be well-meaning, says the student outpost of the Christian Legal Society. But the group contends that requiring it to allow gay students and nonbelievers into its leadership would be a renunciation of its core beliefs, and that the policy violates the Constitution's guarantee of free speech, association with like-minded individuals and exercise of religion.
"Hastings' policy is a threat to every group that seeks to form and define its own voice," the group told the court in a brief. The case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, will be argued in the Supreme Court Monday morning.
Hastings counters that the CLS, a national organization that seeks to "proclaim, love and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law," is demanding special treatment. It wants the college's official stamp of approval and the access to benefits and student activity fees that come with it, but it will not commit to following the nondiscrimination policy that every other student group follows.
The case poses a quandary for a court that has recognized both the ability of public universities and schools to control the use of their facilities and funds and the right of religious groups to select members based on their beliefs. It comes as religious groups have become more active and litigious in demanding a place in the public forum of free speech.
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