2009: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez
can a public university law school deny school funding and other benefits to a religious student organization because the group requires its officers and voting members to agree with its core religious viewpoints?
Christian Legal Society v. Martinez
Oral Arguments: April 19th, 2010
Question: Whether a public university law school may deny school funding and other benefits to a religious student organization because the group requires its officers and voting members to agree with its core religious viewpoints
Background: This case began when the University of California-Hastings School of Law denied formal recognition to the Christian Legal Society (CLS), a student-run group, because it discriminates in who can become voting members and attain leadership roles. While CLS allows any students to participate in their activities, they restrict their voting members and leadership to those who adhere to conservative Christian values as they define them. In particular, they exclude those who engage in "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle" including "sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman."
The University maintains a policy that only clubs that do not discriminate can get recognition from the school. With this recognition comes certain privileges, including the use of message boards and university space, as well as a small allotment of funding.
Amicus Brief: The URJ signed onto an amicus brief coordinated by the American Jewish Committee in favor of the respondent (University of California-Hastings College of the Law). The brief argues that a 9th Circuit's holding that the University's decision to allow restrictive, discriminatory groups access to the University campus, but not to funding, did not violate the students' First Amendment rights and should be affirmed.
For the Union for Reform Judaism's resolution on the separation of church and state, click here
For a complete listing of cases that the Supreme Court is considering this term, visit the SCOTUSWiki 2009 Case Index.