This past Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a case that pits a faith-based student organization’s religious freedom rights against the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law’s non-discrimination policy. Interfaith Alliance weighed in on this case by filing a friend-of-the-court brief for neither party with our colleagues at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
Why did we file for neither party? As we said in our joint statement with the BJC, “a public university’s laudable goal of preventing discrimination is not impeded by allowing a student group to control its own message and membership criteria.” The university’s non-discrimination policy “interferes with rights of expressive association and destroys its intended purpose of allowing student groups to meet around common interests and to encourage the exchange of ideas on campus.”
At the same time, however, we believe “protections should remain in place to keep public funds from supporting religious activity.” Since we could not fully support arguments made on either side, we filed for neither party and articulated what we believe are the two central issues in this case.
See below for a few resources and articles on the case and stay tuned—the Court will hand down a decision in this case sometime over the next few months.
• Don Byrd at the BJC’s Blog from the Capitol culled some key excerpts from the oral argument transcript
• The American Constitution Society held a press briefing that provided an overview of the arguments and the implications of the case (the video is online)
• Dahlia Lithwick wrote a thorough and witty article for Slate on the intricacies of case and the back and forth of oral argument