CLS v. Martinez: Supreme Court Makes Inclusiveness Explicit.

In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, handed down today, the Supreme ruled in favor of Hastings Law School, which refused to recognize an on-campus Christian group that barred gays – or, at least those who engaged in "unrepentant homosexual conduct" – from membership. The Christian Legal Society argued that the school’s nondiscrimination policy violated their First-Amendment right to free speech and association. But the Court ruled, 5 to 4, that because the school’s policy was "viewpoint neutral" it did not "transgress First Amendment limitations."

It’s interesting that most of the case’s legal bickering centered on what the policy in question was. CLS and Hastings initially agreed – "stipulated" in legal lingo -- that the school’s nondiscrimination policy amounted to an "all-comers" policy requiring any campus group to be open to all students. But throughout the trial and its appeal, CLS tried to back away from this. The Christian group claimed instead that the policy, because it specifically prohibited discrimination on certain grounds -- in this case race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender -- was more narrowly targeted to root out those who disapproved of homosexuality; it was not, therefore, "viewpoint neutral." But the Court didn’t let CLS backpedal, noting that the group had agreed to the "all comers" interpretation and that stipulations cannot be withdrawn in higher courts.

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