The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: (202) 466-3234,Joe Conn,Rob Boston,Sandhya Bathija

Americans United Applauds Supreme Court Ruling Against Discriminatory Religious Club at Law Schoo

Church-State Watchdog Group Says High Court Was Right to Rule Against Christian Legal Society Affiliate


Americans United for Separation of Church and State praised today's
Supreme Court ruling upholding a policy at Hastings College of the Law
that prohibits school-subsidized student clubs from engaging in
religious discrimination.

"This decision is a huge step forward for fundamental fairness and
equal treatment," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of
Americans United.

Continued Lynn, "Religious discrimination is wrong, and a public
school should be able to take steps to eradicate it. Today's court
ruling makes it easier for colleges and universities to do that."

The case concerns a student chapter of the Christian Legal Society
(CLS) at Hastings, a division of the University of California. The club
sued the San Francisco school after it was denied official university
recognition and funding.

Hastings administrators said the CLS chapter violated school policies
by denying membership and officer positions to non-Christians, gays and
others who run afoul of CLS's faith statement. (Although the club was
denied official recognition and access to student activity fees, it was
still permitted to meet on campus and advertise its events.)

In a 5-4
, the Supreme Court held that Hastings is within its rights
to apply a non-discrimination policy to the Christian Legal Society.

"Simply stated, the Christian Legal Society sought to ignore rules
that every other group complied with," Lynn said. "The organization
sought preferential treatment simply because it is religious. I'm
pleased the court said no to that."

AU filed a friend-of-the-court
in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez case
along with the American Jewish Committee and the Religious Action Center
of Reform Judaism, asking the high court to rule against

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.