AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case involving the alleged discriminatory policies of a Christian student organization at a California university. In the case of Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) brought suit against Hastings College of Law after they were denied the opportunity to register with the school as a student organization. The denial prohibited the group from receiving special funding, and participating in specific school activities.
Hastings concluded that because the CLS bylaws (in effect) barred non-Christians, homosexuals, and non-celibates from full organization participation, the group violated the law school’s non-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation." Hastings further declared that CLS could continue to meet on campus, but could not be a registered club unless it opened its membership to all, regardless of possible conflicting beliefs.
The Christian Legal Society, is a prominent national organization of jurists, lawyers, and students, with law school chapters throughout the country, including the city of Nashville. If CLS loses its court battle, similar religious organizations, will be negatively impacted as well. The conflict is forcing the courts to confront the reality that most religions (religious groups) are based on principles of exclusivity and, to some extent, discrimination.