Friday, April 16, 2010

Freedom to associate

Harvey Silverglate, a lawyer whose organization has filed a brief in the case, describes what is at stake in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez which will be argued before the Supreme Court on Monday. One hopes the Ninth Circuit opinion will be rejected unanimously. Silverglate:
Can a public university force a Christian student group to accept as leaders students who explicitly reject core tenets of the group's faith? ....

The facts in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez are straightforward. The Christian Legal Society (CLS), an evangelical Christian student group, accepts all students at its functions but requires voting members and leaders to sign a Statement of Faith. The statement endorses "biblical principles of sexual morality," and it makes clear that a student who "advocates or unrepentantly engages in sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman" isn't eligible to vote for or become a group leader. ....

...[L]ast year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals broke the trend and endorsed Hastings' exclusion of the CLS. The fallout was immediate, as Boise State University and the University of Montana de-recognized Christian organizations. Many more public colleges will follow their lead if the high court rules for Hastings. ....

If the Supreme Court decides that public colleges may deny religious groups the same rights as any other group on campus, the result will be less, not more, genuine diversity on campus. .... [more, behind a subscription wall]
One of those commenting asks:
What would stop a group of Christian students from joining a school's Muslim association and voting all Christians as leaders?
The real danger, already apparent in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada, is that anti-discrimination laws will be used to punish those who express what Christianity has always taught and what many sincerely believe the Bible teaches. Liberalism has moved a long way from "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Harvey Silverglate: Public Colleges Undermine Religious Student Groups' First Amendment Rights - WSJ.com