Supreme Court rules college can deny funding to Christian group

The Supreme Court has ruled that Hastings College of The Law in San Francisco can legally deny recognition to a Christian Student group that openly discriminates against homosexuals.

The Examiner

First Amendment/Commentary

July 8, 2010

By Ana Kasparian

The 5-4 ruling indicates that the Christian Legal Society will not get funding or official recognition from the public law school. Hastings has a strict nondiscrimination policy and does not recognize anycampus group that excludes people due to religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

Unsurprisingly, conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote a strong dissent for the Supreme Court’s ruling, and said the outcome of the case was “a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.”

“Our proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate,'” Alito said, quoting a previous court decision. This “decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.”

But Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed with Alito, and said that while the Constitution “may protect CLS’s discriminatory practices off campus, it does not require a public university to validate or support them.”

Stevens also added that “other groups may exclude or mistreat Jews, blacks and women – or those who do not share their contempt for Jews, blacks and women. A free society must tolerate such groups. It need not subsidize them, give them its official imprimatur, or grant them equal access to law school facilities.”

Justice Stevens is 100 percent correct in his assessment of the situation. If the law school has a clear policy against discrimination, they have the right to deny funding to a student group that discriminates against homosexuals, blacks, women, or any other group of individuals. That does not harm the Christian group’s “freedom of expression” since they are not banned from the campus for their discriminatory behavior. On the other hand, it would violate the law school’s freedom of speech if the administrators were forced to fund something that they vehemently disagreed with.

It’s important to understand the distinction between denying funding to a group, and banning a group. Had the law school banned the Christian Legal Society, they would be in the wrong. But denying funding and official recognition is completely warranted. The school’s actions are consistent with their policy.