Supreme Court Upholds University Non-Discrimination Policy

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Supreme Court Upholds University Non-Discrimination Policy

Schools May Require That Groups Comply With Non-Discrimination Policies to Receive Public Funding and Official Recognition

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled today that
Hastings College of Law at the University of California may deny
official recognition and funding to any student club that violates its
non-discrimination policy, as long as that policy is applied equally to
all clubs. The policy was challenged by Christian Legal Society (CLS), a
student group that requires members to sign a Statement of Faith that,
among other things, states that sexual activity should not occur outside
of marriage and then only between a man and a woman. Consequently, gay
and lesbian students, as well as anyone who does not subscribe to CLS'
specific religious beliefs, are barred from membership. The American
Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in the case in support of
Hastings.

"Today's ruling sends a message that
public universities need not lend their name and support to groups that
discriminate," said Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director for the ACLU.
"While all student groups are free to meet and hold their own beliefs, a
public university has the right to enact policies that refuse to
officially recognize and fund groups that deliberately exclude other
members of the student body."

In order to qualify as a "Registered
Student Organization (RSO)," Hastings requires that student groups
comply with its non-discrimination policy, which mandates that all RSOs
be open to all students. Registered Student Organizations are eligible
to receive university funding, use the Hastings logo in branding and
participate in the student activity fair.

Despite being denied RSO status due
to its membership policy, CLS has been permitted to meet on campus as an
official group, and has been granted the use of campus facilities to
hold meetings and campus bulletin boards to communicate with students.

"Under the Hastings policy, CLS still
had ample opportunity to express its religious beliefs publicly,
associate freely on campus and deny membership to students of other
faiths," said Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of
Religion and Belief. "But CLS went further, claiming a right not only to
discriminate, but to receive government funding to subsidize that
discrimination. The Constitution requires no such thing."

The Supreme Court's decision can be
found here: www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1371.pdf

More information on this case is
available here: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights-religion-belief/christian-legal-society-v-martinez

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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