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Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court accepts case of California law school’s denial of official recognition to student religious group

The New York Times reported  that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted review to a Christian student group that is challenging denial recognition by a public law school in California because the groups excludes homosexuals and nonbelievers from full membership.  Hastings College of the Law, which is part of the University of California, allows some 60 recognized student groups to use meeting space, bulletin boards and the like so long as they agree to a policy that forbids discrimination on various grounds, including religion and sexual orientation. The school withdrew recognition from CLS after it refused to comply with the policy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ruled in favor of the law school. Hastings imposes an open membership rule on all student groups, which states “all groups must accept all comers as voting members even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group,” In a brief unsigned decision, a three-judge panel of the court said ,“The conditions on recognition are therefore viewpoint neutral and reasonable.”

Three years earlier, the Seventh Circuit, ruled to the contrary in a case involving a different chapter of the same group at an Illinois law school. It would be very difficult for C.L.S. to sincerely and effectively convey a message of disapproval of certain types of conduct if, at the same time, it must accept members who engage in that conduct.”  “C.L.S.’s beliefs about sexual morality are among its defining values; forcing it to accept as members those who engage in or approve of homosexual conduct would cause the group as it currently identifies itself to cease to exist.”

Source: New York Times, 12/7/09, By Adam Liptak

Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/2010/02/us-supreme-court-accepts-case-of-california-law-schools-denial-of-official-recognition-to-student-re.html

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