7
   

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

 
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 01:08 pm
Quote:
Student group tests law school's equality interests
(By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY, April 19, 2010)

WASHINGTON " In spirited and sometimes testy exchanges, the Supreme Court struggled Monday with whether a state-run law school may refuse to recognize a religious student group that keeps out gay students and non-Christians.

"Why doesn't this all work out?" Justice Anthony Kennedy asked in frustration at one point. "If the Christian Legal Society has these beliefs, I am not so sure why people that don't agree with them want to belong to them."

The case pits a state school's interest in protecting students from bias against a group's interest in preserving its identity and message by limiting participation.

In some respects, the justices seemed divided along ideological grounds. Liberal leaning justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg sympathized with the anti-bias goals of the University of California Hastings College of Law, and more conservative justices such as Samuel Alito inclined toward the Christian challengers.

Kennedy appeared in his usual place in the middle of this deeply divided bench, yet he and others, such as Justice Stephen Breyer, also raised questions about whether the dispute had been sufficiently developed in lower courts to allow the justices to resolve the Christian students' claim of discrimination based on their views.

Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, representing the Christian Legal Society chapter at Hastings, argued that the campus policy of requiring groups to admit students who do not accept their message is a "frontal assault on freedom of association" under the First Amendment.

"If Hastings is correct, a student who does not even believe in the Bible is entitled to demand to lead a Christian Bible study," McConnell said, insisting that the group had been specifically targeted by Hastings.

The case began when school officials refused to recognize the group " and give it student-activity funding, meeting space and other privileges " based on the group's refusal to let gay students and non-Christians fully participate in the organization.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked McConnell whether his argument against Hastings' open-membership policy would allow groups to widely discriminate.

"Are you suggesting that if a group wanted to exclude all black people, all women, all handicapped persons," Sotomayor asked, "that a school has to accept that group and recognize it, give it funds and otherwise lend it space?"

McConnell said no, that the CLS chapter was arguing only that it should be able to keep people from fully participating based on their contrary beliefs, in this case, for example, in favor of homosexual marriage.

"Note how destructive an all-comers policy directed toward beliefs would be," McConnell added, saying that a NAACP chapter would have to allow in "a racist skinhead."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said such contentions about "sabotage" by outsiders was not backed up by any evidence in the record.

Hastings' lawyer Gregory Garre urged the high court to uphold a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in favor of the law school. He argued that all student organizations must abide by the open-membership policy and that the Christian students were not being singled out based on their views.

Justice Antonin Scalia was suspicious of that argument. "To require this Christian society to allow atheists not just to join but to conduct Bible classes … that's crazy."

Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the Hastings policy would require a small Muslim campus group to admit "students who hate Muslims … and want to take over that group."

A ruling in the case is likely by the end of June, when the justices usually recess for the summer. If a court majority decides that the record in the case is lacking, it is likely to send the case back for further proceedings before then.
 
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 02:15 pm
Based only on what you posted, I would have to side with the students.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 02:49 pm
@mysteryman,
I do not know all the details myself. The details could make a difference to how this case is handled. Apparently the school may have only denied funding to the group. Denied funding is treated differently under the law than an outright ban.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 04:05 pm
@wandeljw,
All you need to know is here.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 05:13 pm
@joefromchicago,
Thanks! Great link!
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 06:58 pm
@mysteryman,
mysteryman wrote:
Based only on what you posted, I would have to side with the students.
Yes. The issue is solved if NO group gets funding nor space.
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  2  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 08:08 pm
Just going by the one article, I'd have to side with the school. If they want taxpayer funding, then membership must be open to everyone. Otherwise, take it off campus.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 10:01 pm
@Irishk,
Irishk wrote:
Just going by the one article, I'd have to side with the school.
If they want taxpayer funding, then membership must be open to everyone. Otherwise, take it off campus.
OK, so if a chapter of the NAACP begins in the school, with 10 members,
who are later joined by 12 skinheads and by another 11 KKK members
who democratically elect the chapter leadership from among the chapter membership at large
and begin making resolutions for dissemination to the public,
then the school shud contribute taxpayer public funding to support that, in your opinion ??
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 10:38 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Yes. As long as the group is accepting taxpayer funding, my opinion is that there can be no discrimination in their admissions policy. If they choose to discrimate then they can take it off campus and pass the hat.

To me it's crystal clear...unless I'm missing something.
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 01:35 am
@joefromchicago,
Thanx Joe.
After reading that link it seems that even the USSC doesnt quite know how to handle this case.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 02:13 am
@Irishk,
Irishk wrote:
Yes. As long as the group is accepting taxpayer funding, my opinion is that there can be no discrimination
in their admissions policy. If they choose to discrimate then they can take it off campus and pass the hat.

To me it's crystal clear...unless I'm missing something.
Well, with all respect,
the element that u r missing, in my opinion,
is that the basic nature, purpose and function of the group
will be destroyed or turned around 180 degrees by malicious interlopers.

The USSC addressed this concept a few years ago in a case whose name
I don 't remember, concerning members of the public voting in primary elections
of any party of their choice, including minority parties, to nominate anyone of their choice,
who can indeed be the weakest candidate or distorted platform, for the purpose of killing
the prospect for democratic representation of the philosophy represented by that party.
As I remember, that was ruled unconstitutional. I approved of that holding.
(For instance, for the sake of elucidation: if an Anti-Apartheid South African party were invaded
by Pro-Apartheid voters, then that party coud and woud be advocating the opposite of its founding purpose.)

The same principle applies here, so far as I can see.





David
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 07:54 am
@OmSigDAVID,
It is simply the school's policy that clubs using school funds and school property keep their membership open to everyone. There is no evidence that clubs at the school are being ruined by interlopers. The Democrat Club at the school allows Republicans and Independents to join their club. The Republican Club at the school allows Democrats and Independents to join their club.
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 08:30 am
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:
the purpose of killing the prospect for democratic representation of the philosophy represented by that party.
As I remember, that was ruled unconstitutional.
The same principle applies here, so far as I can see.


I'm not a lawyer, but that seems like apples and oranges to me. Comparing the two, one case has far reaching consequences for the voting public . But I don't see how a similar consequence would apply to not recognizing a group (the Christian Legal Society) wishing to restrict membership while taking school and state funding.




OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:01 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
It is simply the school's policy that clubs using school funds
and school property keep their membership open to everyone.
Well, what it amounts to is that in exchange for
funding and floorspace, thay expose themselves
to what amounts to a death sentence. For instance
(I think Justice Scalia took some cognizance of this)
if a relatively large number of atheists sought to ridicule
a club for religious study, it coud flood them with numbers
and elect militant atheists to run the group, for the sadistic
pleasure of tormenting the original members, or
simply 3 malicious atheists out of 50 religious victims can drive
everyone nuts, with clever annoyances to harass & interfere
with executing the purpose of the group, without being overtly disorderly.



wandeljw wrote:
There is no evidence that clubs at the school are being ruined by interlopers.
"Well, the baby hasn 't been kidnapped YET, Colonel Lindbergh; let 's not be paranoid."





David
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:09 am
@Irishk,
OmSigDAVID wrote:
the purpose of killing the prospect for democratic representation
of the philosophy represented by that party.
As I remember, that was ruled unconstitutional.
The same principle applies here, so far as I can see.
Irishk wrote:
I'm not a lawyer, but that seems like apples and oranges to me. Comparing the two, one case has far reaching consequences for the voting public . But I don't see how a similar consequence would apply to not recognizing a group (the Christian Legal Society) wishing to restrict membership while taking school and state funding.
Admittedly, it is not a case in point, not on all fours, but I see some similarities of principle.

I 'd have no trouble in believing that u were a lawyer.
U have a well-ordered mind and u argue from well-structured analyses,
whether we agree or not. I respect your ability to reason.





David
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:17 am
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

the element that u r missing, in my opinion,
is that the basic nature, purpose and function of the group
will be destroyed or turned around 180 degrees by malicious interlopers.

I think this particular fear is drastically overblown. Skinheads could overwhelm local NAACP units, but they don't. If atheists choose to join this particular club, they would still have to abide by the rules of the club. If they went around being disruptive, they could be excluded, not because of their religious beliefs, but because they were being disruptive. If an atheist can effectively lead bible study, by all means let him.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:34 am
@engineer,
OmSigDAVID wrote:
the element that u r missing, in my opinion,
is that the basic nature, purpose and function of the group
will be destroyed or turned around 180 degrees by malicious interlopers.

engineer wrote:
I think this particular fear is drastically overblown.
Skinheads could overwhelm local NAACP units, but they don't.
If atheists choose to join this particular club,
they would still have to abide by the rules of the club.
If present in sufficient numbers, thay coud and woud change those rules
to facilitate sadistic interference. By democratic resolution on the floor,
thay coud define their conduct as non-disruptive and appropriate,
maybe, by democratic resolution, require the original blacks
of the NAACP chapter to do things supportive of the KKK
(like donate funds); maybe require all chapter members to dress in white sheets.





David
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:38 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Don't forget that this case is about student clubs at a school. Is the school policy unconstitutional?
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:46 am
@OmSigDAVID,
This could happen anywhere at any time, not just on campus. Why do organizations on campus have special protections from the vagaries of democracy? If a student organization wants to exclude students, they should not be on campus taking student activity funds. This seems like a fair school policy and well within the school's rights. This organization wants an exemption because of its religious nature. To me the question is whether they are asking for special privilege due to their religion or if they are being discrimated because of it. I think the former.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 09:46 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
Don't forget that this case is about student clubs at a school.

Is the school policy unconstitutional?
As of now, I have no opinion about the constitutionality of it, pending further consideration and analysis.





David
0 Replies
 
 

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