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June 28, 2010

High court upholds public law school's non-discrimination policy against religious challenge

The Supreme Court Monday upheld a policy at a California law school that groups receiving campus funding must accept "all comers" -- that is, that they may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or other status or belief. The Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings had filed suit after the university revoked its recognition because the group barred membership to "unrepentant homosexuals."

While upholding the law school's policy, the Court remanded to the 9th Circuit an assertion by CLS that Hastings applied its non-discrimination policy selectively in this case.

Our colleague Ruthann Robson analyzes the decision over at ConLawProfBlog.

Lambda Legal and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) had filed a friend of the court brief arguing that CLS's exclusion of students who engage in same-sex sexual activity without remorse excludes gay people by definition.  "We're extremely pleased the Court has found that discrimination is discrimination, however you try to package it," said Jon Davidson, Legal Director of Lambda Legal. "CLS was attempting to draw a distinction between status and conduct. But when an organization has a membership requirement that one must believe conduct central to one's identity is immoral, that's the same thing as excluding people for who they are. It's wrong of CLS to expect students to fund a group that wouldn't have them as a member. The Court wisely rejected CLS's attempt to obtain what the Court recognized as 'preferential, not equal treatment' under the school's rules applicable to all other recognized clubs."


June 28, 2010 | Permalink


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