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Court Backs UC Law School's Refusal To Recognize Christian Student Group

Publication Date: 
June 28, 2010
Source: 
San Jose Mercury News
Author: 
John Simerman

Professor Michael McConnell is quoted in the San Jose Mercury News on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. McConnell is representing the Christian Legal Society in challenging the anti-bias policy and its effect on student organizations with belief-based membership criteria at UC Hastings College of the Law:

Public universities can refuse to recognize student groups that discriminate in their membership, the United States Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case between a University of California law school and a Christian student group that bars those who engage in "unrepentant homosexual conduct" or fail to sign a pledge of faith.

A 5-4 majority found that UC's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco could legally reject a chapter of the Christian Legal Society under the school's "all-comers" anti-discrimination policy that requires recognized student groups to allow any student to join. The recognized groups gain access to campus meeting facilities, e-mail and bulletin board privileges and up to $5,000 in travel funds paid from student activity fees.

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The high court did not rule on whether Hastings enforced its policy in a nondiscriminatory way, remanding that issue to the Ninth Circuit. Michael McConnell, a former federal judge who argued the case for CLS, said the group planned to show that Hastings does not enforce its policy across the board.

"The only thing I would really predict is, this is going to lead to a lot more conflict, tension and litigation," said McConnell, director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. "The court had an opportunity simply to say, every group has a right to participate and a right to control their own leadership."