An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group that won’t let gays join, with one justice saying that the First Amendment does not require a public university to validate or support the group’s “discriminatory practices.”
The court turned away an appeal from the Christian Legal Society, which sued to get funding and recognition from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle” as being inconsistent with that faith.
As with tax exemptions and the like, my preference is for religious and other groups to remain free of the government’s (or university’s) financial thumb. Still, one suspects that this policy will not be (is probably not being) universally applied in an objective way — along the reasoning that it’s not discrimination to discriminate against those who discriminate in ways that the dominant culture doesn’t like. One also suspects, however, that few Christians and other cultural conservatives will be inclined to test the ruling’s application by striving to infiltrate and undermine the principles of liberally minded student groups, as appears to have been an issue in the other direction in the case at hand.
That might make for an interesting project, though, for politically conservative students: Join a radical environmental group in large numbers, claim its offices, and reverse its statements of finding and principle. Such dishonest subversion isn’t something that I’d encourage, but it sure would be entertaining to watch as a spectator.