Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Genuine diversity requires boundaries

This morning The Washington Times editorialized about an upcoming Supreme Court case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, with important implications for students at public universities. The editorial summarized the case:
...[T]he University of California's Hastings College of Law (in San Francisco) denied official recognition to the Christian Legal Society (CLS), a conservative religious student group. ....

U.C. Hastings objected to the Christian group because it requires its voting members and officers to abide by an extensive, faith-based pledge that includes a prohibition on all premarital and extramarital sex. Anybody can come to the group's meetings and participate, but only those — heterosexual and homosexual alike — who adopt the Statement of Faith can serve as officers and actually lead the Bible study. The university administration decided that a prohibition on sexual activity applicable to all voting members somehow discriminates specifically against homosexuals. (Secondarily, it said CLS discriminates on the basis of religion.) On those grounds, the school refused to register the group. .... [more]
A brief submitted to the Court by law professor and former federal judge Michael W. McConnell is quoted here:
A “variety of viewpoints” is far more likely to be achieved when students are allowed to sort themselves out by interest and viewpoint—Republicans in one club, Democrats in another; Muslims in one organization, Lutherans in another. Without such sorting, all viewpoints are blurred. The Democratic Caucus becomes the Bipartisan Caucus; the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clubs become the Ecumenical Society; and every other group organized around a belief becomes a Debate Club. Each group becomes no more than its own diverse forum—writ small. The all-comers rule thus defeats the very purpose of recognizing any group as a group in the first place. Preventing students from organizing around shared beliefs does not foster a robust or diverse exchange of views.
EDITORIAL: A new battle of Hastings - Washington Times, Southern Appeal » Religious Liberty’s Battle of Hastings