Supreme Court ruling supports Hastings College of Law’s student groups policy
The Supreme Court issued a ruling recently that allows San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law to force student groups to permit membership even to those who disagree with the group’s vision and mission, the Alliance Defense Fund Media said.
Leo Martinez, Hastings’ dean and acting chancellor said the school policy, which the Supreme Court backed in its ruling, is equitable and fair, FindLaw said.
Martinez told PBS last April that the policy means that a Jewish league would have to admit Muslims, and a black group would have to admit white supremacists, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly said.
By the same reasoning, Democrats would have to allow the election of Republicans, and an atheist could lead a Bible study group, the ADF Media said.
The SC upheld the school policy in a 5-4 ruling. However, they did not address discrimination policies in general, and particularly, whether the school was targeting the Christian Legal Society only instead of applying the rule fairly to all school organizations, ADF Media said.
The SC said in its ruling that public universities have the option to supersede a religious student group’s freedom to choose its own leadership. However, they must apply the option equally to all student groups, ADF Media said.
Kim Colby, senior counsel of the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom expressed disappointment with the SC ruling and said, “All college students, including religious students, should have the right to form groups around shared beliefs without being banished from campus,” ADF Media said.
The Supreme Court noted in its ruling that the lower courts failed to address the CLS issue of whether Hastings was enforcing the policy only on the CLS, and in this way, exhibiting bias. The SC therefore left a window open by which the CLS may, if they wish, further pursue the issue, Speak Up said.
Lead counsel Michael McConnell said, “The record will show that Hastings law school applied its policy in a discriminatory way–excluding CLS from campus but not other groups who limit leadership and voting membership in a similar way. The Supreme Court did not rule that public universities can apply different rules to religious groups than they apply to political, cultural, or other student groups,” ADF Media said.
The case arose when Martinez denied funding and refused to give official recognition to the CLS, the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly said.
The CLS, an organization of Christian lawyers with chapters nationwide, seeks to practice law guided by their faith. They hold weekly Bible studies with prayer and worship, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly said.
While the CLS Hastings chapter permits all students to come to its meetings, one must sign a CLS statement of faith before gaining membership and the right to vote and be a leader in the organization. Martinez felt the requirement of a statement of faith was discriminatory, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly said.