U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear lawsuit against UC-Hastings

High Court will hear case involving right of religious student organizations to determine their own leadership
Monday, December 07, 2009

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez:
What’s at Stake?
·         The freedom of Christian student groups to be treated the same as other student groups without being forced to deny their faith.
·         The freedom for college students to consistently exercise free speech and free association by advocating for their beliefs through student organizations.
·         Recognition of students’ First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association on college campuses.
WASHINGTON
— The U.S. Supreme Court Monday agreed to decide whether a public university can refuse to recognize a religious student group because the group requires its leaders to share its religious beliefs. Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom represent a student chapter of CLS, which Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco refused to recognize because the group requires all of its officers and voting members to subscribe to its basic Christian beliefs.

“Public universities shouldn’t single out Christian student groups for discrimination. All student groups have the right to associate with people of like-mind and interest,” said Senior Counsel Kim Colby with the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom. “We trust the Supreme Court will not allow Hastings to continue to deprive CLS of this right by forcing the group to abandon its identity as a Christian student organization.”

“Christian students have the right to gather as Christians for a common purpose and around shared beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Gregory S. Baylor with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “It’s completely unreasonable--and unconstitutional--for a public university to disrupt the purposes of private student groups by forcing them to accept as members and officers those who oppose the very ideas they advocate.”

CLS Litigation Counsel Timothy J. Tracey, now with ADF, argued the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in March. The appellate court refused to reverse a district judge’s decision against CLS, so the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.