On The U.S. Supreme Court Docket
I recently stumbled across this. Read the entire item below the fold, and leave a comment if you are inclined to do so:
Can Campus Religious Groups Exclude Non-Believers?
The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments to determine whether official student organizations at public universities can exclude students based on their religious views.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) is a national association of lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students with chapters at universities across the country. In 2004, CLS members at the University of California Hastings College of the Law requested recognition as an official student organization, hoping to secure benefits including financial support and meeting space. The University refused, saying CLS violated its nondiscrimination policies by denying membership to practicing homosexuals and anyone who refuses to sign the group’s “statement of faith.”
“Religious groups on campus have a choice,” says Ethan Schulman, a lawyer representing the school. “If they want to be eligible to receive public funds and access to facilities, they cannot discriminate in selecting members and officers. If they wish to discriminate, they can continue to meet, but without the benefit of public funds and support.”
While any student can attend CLS meetings and activities, leaders and voting members must promise to abstain from all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage and adhere to a set of religious principles the society outlines. “A group’s ability to have its leaders share its core values is vital,” says Kim Colby, senior counsel with the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom. “All associations, but particularly religious ones, should be alarmed that government officials are trying to interfere with that basic right.”
Jesse Choper, a law professor at UC Berkeley, says that conflicting legal precedents are at work. In 2000, the Supreme Court decided that the Boy Scouts were within their rights to deny membership to homosexuals. However, Choper notes, “even if you have a First Amendment right to do something, it does not entitle you to funding to exercise your right.”
— George Vernadakis