Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

As I’m a week and a half from law school exams, I don’t have the time to do this justice but there’s an important case involving a group I’m involved in at law school that was argued in front of the Supreme Court today. In sum, the school banned the CLS (Christian Legal Society) because it wanted the Christian Legal Society members to be…well, Christians. The school defends itself on the idea that allowing any discrimination is intolerable and would open a slippery slope to racist groups (no, seriously-read the article and the questions of Sotomayor & Stevens. Glad that Obama appointment is doing well for Christians).

So pray for a just result that will protect the rights of Christians to assemble.

12 Responses to Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

  • Well, if the article you linked was right, no, it is not about whether or not they are to be Christian. You could allow gays to join and still be Christian. There are Christian gays (as TAC should know). If the point is no gay can join, I would argue such group was antithetical to Christianity.

  • Of course, I am sure you will say it is not about allowing gays to join — but yet, I know many “Christians” who say to celibate Christian gays they are “advocating a lifestyle” by pointing out their orientation.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    While I’m certainly sympathetic with the CLS (and was an active member when I attended law school several decades ago), I’m not sure I agree with its legal theory in this case. What I want to know is whether or how its freedom to associate is actually impaired by failing to secure “official” status. Does a failure to secure school financing and benefits actually mean it is “banned”? If so, is its practical ability to meet encumbered?
    I can appreciate the state’s interest in being unwilling to accord its impramatur upon groups that discriminate based on religion, race, etc., even if the application of such a limitiation to a bona fide religious group does seem ridiculous, but laws/rules are always imperfectly drafted, either underinclusive, overinclusive, or both. This one appears overinclusive (and is probably both), but my reaction is that this imperfection does not render it constitutionally infirm without a showing of First Amendment harm. This stands in contrast to laws granting churches an exception from general religious discrimination prohibitions, which quite possibly are constitutionally required precisely because a law that would prevent a church from favoring its own adherents for various church positions would presumably encumber the church from freely exercising its religion. I’m just not sure that disqualifying the CLS from receiving school financing and benefits is quite the same thing.

    All that said, I certainly could be wrong and fully expect to be flamed with enthusiasm.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Well I helped found the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois Law School back at the dawn of time when I was a law student. Without official recognition we wouldn’t have been able to hold our meetings in classrooms, put up notices of our meetings on law school bulletin boards or receive funding from the Student Organization Resource Fund. I think the lack of these would have constituted a penalty to the group. I think the best tactic however is to argue that the Christian Legal Society is being singled out for enforcement of these regulations.

    Here is a transcript of the oral argument:
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1371.pdf

  • PM says:

    One analysis of this case claimed that if the court found against the CLS, then by the same reasoning a state-supported school could not give official sanction to a gay-rights group that excluded people opposed to the gay-rights agenda. So if the CLS loses, maybe its members could sign up en masse for the gay-rights club, bringing their friends along with them. Discussion on college campuses would probably not become more civil, but it would be more varied and interesting.

  • The same thing is true today as it was for Don (however many years ago that was. I won’t inquire ;) ) Other groups would have a significantly easier time having groups then would Christians. I think this is where Alito’s questioning in the argument was going-groups like for gay advocacy are not going to have a problem while Christian or other religious groups will not be permitted, allowing those other groups to have state-sponsored advantages over the Christian groups. That’s where I think that’s where the constitutional question comes in.

    I would love to make that argument stronger, but unfortunately I won’t be tested on CLS v. Martinez in the next two weeks.

    Henry:

    The article makes it perfectly clear that CLS was banning those who are practicing homosexuals, not homosexuals trying to live out a Christian life. There is no evidence that CLS discriminated against Christians with a homosexual orientation in this case or in general. While I’m sure some Christians have mistreated our brothers, I see no basis why you should accuse CLS of this behavior unless you have some evidence other than the fact that CLS tends to contain conservatives and therefore fall under your presumption of evil?

    PM:

    That’s not a bad idea.

  • Andy K. says:

    “One analysis of this case claimed that if the court found against the CLS, then by the same reasoning a state-supported school could not give official sanction to a gay-rights group that excluded people opposed to the gay-rights agenda. So if the CLS loses, maybe its members could sign up en masse for the gay-rights club, bringing their friends along with them. Discussion on college campuses would probably not become more civil, but it would be more varied and interesting.”

    Having read the legal briefings for this case, this is more or less what’s at stake. Pure and simple the administration of Hastings College (the school where this took place) is saying that this will indeed be the case – the only problem is, it seems to only be enforced in the case of the Christian group. We’ll see how this unfolds…

  • “It is so weird to require the campus Republican Club to admit Democrats, not just to membership, but to officership,” Justice Antonin Scalia said.

    Funny that he mentions that. When I was in law school, the president of the Federalist Society was a Democrat. The president of CLS was suspected by everyone to be a closeted homosexual.

    Interesting case but I don’t know if it’ll make any practical difference. I didn’t join CLS because it was too Protestant for my comfort. I don’t see practicing homosexuals joining, much less get voted into leadership positions.

  • HK:

    I have a feeling that the two of you are disagreeing on what is meant by “pointing” with Deco taking to pointing as something along the lines of “I’m gay and you need to accommodate that” (think of the “coming out” promotions which obviously connote acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle) as opposed to acknowledging a struggle with sin which you’re thinking of. I’ll let the two of you discuss that if you wish.

    Of course, this is a digression and has nothing to do with the idea that Colleges must force Christian groups to accept practicing homosexuals (i.e. non-celibate) in order to get official status.

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