On Monday, the US Supreme Court decided to hear the case of Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez. The hearing will take place in March 2010 and the justices will hand down their ruling by the end of June. The case involves the 1st Amendment right to free speech and anti-discrimination policy at the UC Hastings College of Law.
According to University policy, all student groups must be open to the entire student body and cannot exclude anyone based on “race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation”. However, the Christian Legal Society argues that it should not have to follow this policy because it goes against the national policy of the group. Five years ago, the Hastings chapter said that it would not accept gay or lesbian students because of this.
In response to the CLS policy declaration, the College of Law said that they would lose their standing as an official student group. They would still be free to meet, but would lose school funding, their right to reserved rooms and use of the school website to promote itself. This led to a lawsuit in which both sides argued they were being discriminated against; the Christian group for not being allowed to continue its practices, and homosexual students for being excluded based on their sexual orientation.
The lawsuit went to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals where the claims of the CLS were rejected. A federal judge ruled that the open membership policy of the school did not violate the US Constitution. The CLS has since appealed to the Supreme Court. We will have to wait until the middle of next year to see what happens.
Here is a little more information on discrimination from the website of an employment lawyer. I’m interested to see what the general public has to say on the topic. I’d also like to know the argument that says that a school has an obligation to support any student group. I would think that that would be grounds enough to dismiss the case.