In a case that will pit protections against beliefs, the Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments from lawyers representing University of California's Hastings College of the Law and lawyers from the school's Christian Legal Society, which says allowing gays and lesbians to join goes against its core values.
"The college, which requires officially recognized student groups to admit any Hastings student who wants to join, may be well-meaning, says the student outpost of the Christian Legal Society. But the group contends that requiring it to allow gay students and nonbelievers into its leadership would be a renunciation of its core beliefs, and that the policy violates the Constitution's guarantee of free speech, association with like-minded individuals and exercise of religion.
'Hastings' policy is a threat to every group that seeks to form and define its own voice,' the group told the court in a brief. The case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, will be argued in the Supreme Court Monday morning.
Hastings counters that the CLS, a national organization that seeks to 'proclaim, love and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law,' is demanding special treatment. It wants the college's official stamp of approval and the access to benefits and student activity fees that come with it, but it will not commit to following the nondiscrimination policy that every other student group follows."
Some background in the case: "A Christian group was part of the landscape for years. But when it decided to affiliate with the national CLS, it was told the group's ban of gays and nonbelievers in leadership positions violated the college's policy and its insistence that all Hastings students be allowed to join any club.
The CLS sued. A federal judge sided with the school, saying its blanket policy did not single out the religious group because of its views. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed."
(image flickr user frankfarm)