The Jury Talks Back

3/19/2009

Court: Christian student group can’t exclude non-believers, gays

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 5:39 am

Last week a federal appeals court ruled that UC Hastings College of Law can refuse to recognize and provide funding for a Christian student group that excludes non-Christians as well as gays and lesbians.  The Ninth U.S. Circus Circuit Court ruled that the school may require that the Christian Legal Society “accept all comers as members, even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group.”  The group requires that members endorse a statement of faith and prohibits anyone who shows “unrepentant homosexual conduct.”

One wonders whether the University and the Court have considered the implications of the decision.  Would a Jewish group be forced to accept Christians as members — or those who reject Israel’s right to exist?  Would a campus LGBT group be required to accept members that oppose same-sex marriage?  What about a student Republican or Democrat group that rejects those who support a different political party?  Would they lose funding or recognition?

The ruling appears to be in direct contradiction to U.S. Supreme Court precedent.  The high court has previously ruled that a public institution must provide equal access to campus facilities and funding to religious organizations as it provides to other student organizations. Decisions must be made on a content-neutral basis. (Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981); Board of Regents v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217 (2000); Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995)) 

Hopefully the Christian Legal Society will appeal this hairbrained decision to the Supreme Court.

23 Comments

  1. The CLS ought to be able to go back and recover damages from the University and any supporters of the university, that is if there were real justice.

    Comment by PCD — 3/19/2009 @ 5:47 am

  2. Come on, those questions are easy to answe.

    “Would a Jewish group be forced to accept Christians as members”
    No
    “or those who reject Israel’s right to exist?”
    Yes

    “Would a campus LGBT group be required to accept members that oppose same-sex marriage?”
    No

    “What about a student Republican or Democrat group that rejects those who support a different political party?”
    Yes on the former, no on the latter.

    See? Easy. Frightening, but easy.

    Comment by Batt Moon — 3/19/2009 @ 6:43 am

  3. My leaning is that I don’t need or want anybody’s permission or support in my associations. The CLS chose to ask daddy’s permission and help and it got turned down. It should not have asked in the first place. If they are really Christians, they should ask themselves “What Would Jesus Do?”

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 7:00 am

  4. nk: Registered student organizations receive a number of benefits besides funding, including
    * participation in a fair where new students learn about the various campus groups
    * submit announcements to the campus-wide Hastings Weekly
    * facilities use for meetings, events, guest speakers, etc.

    It is unfair for CLS members to be forced to pay student fees that are distributed to other groups and then be denied access to these benefits that are provided to the other groups.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/19/2009 @ 7:17 am

  5. I understood that, aunursa. And if Christ had danced nude in front of Herod, or if he had told Pilate that he recognized Tiberius as his god ….

    The school did not even need to know CLS’s existence. And had the group come to the school’s attention, my answer to the administration’s inquiry, as CLS’s attorney, would have been: “We are exercising our First Amendment rights. All of them. Speech, press, religion, association. Butt out.”

    When you choose to swim in a sewer, don’t complain about the crap that falls down on you.

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 7:31 am

  6. My gang-member clients may be the only true libertarians left in America. They don’t ask nobody’s permission for nothing. They eat when they have money to buy food with. And they live as long as they can dodge the other gang’s bullets. And nobody has given them permission to shoot back. Or to buy the guns to shoot back with.

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 7:37 am

  7. nk: The CLS is not asking the school for permission, acceptance, or approval.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/19/2009 @ 8:25 am

  8. Last week a federal appeals court ruled that UC Hastings College of Law can refuse to recognize and provide funding for a Christian student group that excludes non-Christians as well as gays and lesbians.

    ?

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 8:29 am

  9. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

    UC Hastings is a governmental institution. Therefore, CLS went looking for government sponsorship. The government said, “Be my bitch”. It sounds right to me.

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 8:50 am

  10. nk,

    It is people like you who give Secular Progressives a bad name. The Ninth Circus will be slapped down once again making you look stupid.

    Comment by PCD — 3/19/2009 @ 10:12 am

  11. Clearly, all members of the CLS should join the local Muslim or gay college group and post flyers/rent rooms under their name with an addendum.

    Comment by luagha — 3/19/2009 @ 10:24 am

  12. I’m not a Secular Progressive, PCD. I’m a bigot.

    Comment by nk — 3/19/2009 @ 12:03 pm

  13. Comment by Batt Moon — 3/19/2009 @ 6:43 am

    In light of the court’s ruling to force the Christian org to accept non-christians as members, please give a reason for each no you gave…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 3/19/2009 @ 1:00 pm

  14. Can a Jewish Legal Society keep out anti-Semites? IF so, how is this different from a Christian LEgal Society keeping out anti-Christians? (or do you assert that the non-Christians and gays crashing the party are doing so because they want a Christian legal experience (whatever that is)?

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 3/19/2009 @ 8:19 pm

  15. Upon reflection, the issue is more complicated.

    Surely a refusal to open a “New Testament study group” to non-Christian hecklers would be defensible, but what on earth is a “Christian Legal Society”? What does the religion of the members have to do with the Law?

    There is a difference between freedom of association and exclusion, and it has to do with the arbitrariness of the exclusion. Since the Christian requirement has little to do with the purpose of the group (a legal society), it is arguable that it is simple discrimination.

    It would even be more of a problem if membership in the group was helpful to success at the college, but that doesn’t seem to apply here.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 3/20/2009 @ 10:19 am

  16. I think Batt was being sarcastic. See the last answers. At first I was taken in.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/20/2009 @ 10:28 am

  17. What does the religion of the members have to do with the Law?

    OUR VISION

    A growing nationwide fellowship of Christian lawyers and law students who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
    ~ Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23 ~

    OUR MISSION

    To inspire, encourage, and equip Christian lawyers and law students, both individually and in community, to proclaim, love and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law, the provision of legal assistance to the poor and needy, and the defense of religious freedom and the sanctity of human life.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/20/2009 @ 10:30 am

  18. Aunursa: if that’s their vision and their mission, then it seems to me that excluding dedicated Christian gays and lesbians – either celibate ones or ones who belong to Christian denominations which don’t object to gay sex – is arbitrary and unrelated to their mission. It appears to me to be simple discrimination.

    Now, clearly they have a legal right to discriminate in this fashion. But the question is, do they have a legal right to receive state financial support while discriminating in this fashion?

    Comment by aphrael — 3/21/2009 @ 9:04 am

  19. Exactly. But I think the obverse is the more important question to religious groups and some other associations as well: Is establishmentarianism compatible with freedom?

    Comment by nk — 3/21/2009 @ 9:44 am

  20. What did you expect from the Ninth Circuit, anyway? Deference to Supreme Court precedent? (heh heh heh heh….)

    Comment by Steven Den Beste — 3/21/2009 @ 12:07 pm

  21. I wonder: are Christians who do not study law excluded? Is this a problem for the college?

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 3/21/2009 @ 2:53 pm

  22. aphrael: excluding dedicated Christian gays and lesbians – either celibate ones or ones who belong to Christian denominations which don’t object to gay sex – is arbitrary and unrelated to their mission. It appears to me to be simple discrimination.

    The Hastings chapter rejects those who engage in “unrepentant homosexual conduct.” The group’s stance on celibate gays is unclear.

    The group believes that the Bible teaches that homosexual conduct is incompatible with serving Jesus. It’s therefore related to their mission.

    If you claim that it’s unrelated because there exist some Christian denominations that interpret the Bible differently and accept gays and lesbians, then by the same token you would have to argue that a Jewish group must accept anti-Zionists because of the Neturei Karta.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/23/2009 @ 7:05 am

  23. aphrael: do they have a legal right to receive state financial support while discriminating in this fashion?

    If other campus groups that discriminate on the basis of viewpoint receive financial support from the state and/or mandatory student fees, then the answer must be yes. The state may not show a preference for or against religion.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/23/2009 @ 9:21 am

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