Should the Christian Legal Society be forced to accept as members non-Christians who violate the tenets of historic Christianity? The correct answer shouldn’t be hard to come by, but, naturally, Hastings Law School got it wrong, and its bad judgment was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
So it is on to the Supreme Court. Reports the New York Times:
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from a Christian student group that had been denied recognition by a public law school in California for excluding homosexuals and nonbelievers. The case pits anti-discrimination principles against religious freedom.
The group, the Christian Legal Society, says it welcomes all students to participate in its activities. But it does not allow students to become voting members or to assume leadership positions unless they affirm what the group calls orthodox Christian beliefs and disavow “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle.” Such a lifestyle, the group says, includes “sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The law school, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, 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 the Christian group after it refused to comply with the policy.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled in favor of Hastings in March.
“Hastings imposes an open membership rule on all student groups – all groups must accept all comers as voting members even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group,” a three-judge panel of the court said in a brief unsigned decision. “The conditions on recognition are therefore viewpoint neutral and reasonable.”
Three years earlier, the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, 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,” Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote for the majority of a divided three-judge panel. “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.”
This will be a good test whether the forces of forced diversity are ascendant on the high court.
Of course, if CLS loses, I suppose that means that Christians could retaliate by taking over the campus atheists club!
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