Friday, July 2, 2010

Misunderstanding of the court’s ruling on the Christian group

A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Hastings College of Law in California by supporting its ban on any group that does not allow all students to be members regardless of their religious or sexual orientation beliefs.

Hastings College of Law requires that any group that would like to be officially recognized by the school and participate in the governing board for students groups must accept any student that would like to join the group. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) requires members to sign an affidavit that states both, in short, they are Christians and they will not be involved in sexual activity outside of “Gods” will – including “unrepentant homosexual” activity. Since some members of the student body at Hastings would not be able to sign the affidavit honestly, they would not be able to join the group with fully active memberships. Therefore, the Hasting College of Law denied full membership status to Christian Legal Society, but did allow them to continue as a campus group without official recognition. CLS sued the school to accept them as members.

A line from the ruling of the Supreme Court goes a long way in explaining the decision in favor of Hastings.

“Hastings requires that [RSOs] allow any student to participate, regardless of [her] status or beliefs. For example, the Hastings Democratic Caucus cannot bar students holding Republican political beliefs.” … The all-comers policy is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the RSO forum; it therefore does not transgress First Amendment limitations. “

The Hasting College of Law’s policy doesn’t pick a religion or belief system to reject. It doesn’t even say that the group can’t be on campus. It simply states that to receive full status it must allow all students to belong if they would like.

Equality is the most important issue. Policy by any government function, such as Hastings which is part of the California school system, can’t deny any individual or groups equality in its treatment. Hastings’ policy is that all students must be treated equally by all the campus groups. As a side bar, one of the groups that Hastings does recognize is a Muslim lawyers association. That group didn’t not exclude Christians from joining.

This was a good decision by the Supreme Court.