A California law school is under no constitutional obligation to grant the Christian Legal Society status as an official student group, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. The school had withheld such status because of the group's exclusion of gays as members.
The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a San Francisco law school did not violate the First Amendment when it refused official recognition of a Christian student group that restricted its membership to those who shared a belief that homosexualty is immoral.
In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said the University of California’s Hastings College of Law was under no constitutional obligation to recognize the Christian Legal Society as an official student group.
The majority justices said the law school had adopted a viewpoint-neutral policy requiring its student organizations to pledge not to discriminate against fellow students on the basis of religious belief or sexual orientation. In addition, the school reportedly adopted an “accept all comers” policy requiring student groups to permit any student to join their organization – even when that student disagreed with the purpose of the group.
Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said public universities may condition official recognition of a student group – and the related use of school funds and facilities – on that group’s agreement to admit all students.
“Compliance with Hastings’ all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum,” she wrote.
Justice Ginsburg added that, in the view of the majority justices, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) was not seeking parity with other student organizations, but a preferential exemption from the Hastings schoolwide policy.
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