Christian law group case may be sent back
“Instead of saying Christians can’t meet on campus because of your Christian viewpoint, it selects a particular belief that is contrary to Christians with regards to sexuality and says, ‘We’re going to require that belief to be shared by everybody, and that’s whether you’re atheist, Christian or non-Christian.‘”
04/27/2010 United States (BP)-It will come as no great shock to religious liberty defender Mathew Staver if the U.S. Supreme Court returns a case about the free speech and association rights of Christian law students to a lower court.
After sitting in on oral arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez , the chairman of Liberty Counsel expressed surprise about one thing — “the court’s concern over what the policy [in question] actually is.”
CLS chapters welcome all students to their meetings but permit only those who agree to the organization’s statement of faith to be officers or voting members. The CLS statement calls for abstinence from “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle.”
“If Hastings is correct, a student who does not even believe in the Bible is entitled to demand to lead a Christian Bible study, and if CLS does not promise to allow this, the college will bar them from its forum for speech,” Michael McConnell told the justices on behalf of CLS.
McConnell, a law professor at Stanford University , is considered an expert on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. He served for nearly seven years as a judge nominated by President George W. Bush to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before going to Stanford in 2009.
The case appears to share similarities with a series of decisions during the last three decades in which the Supreme Court has ruled that government must give equal access to religious groups when it provides a forum for non-religious organizations.
“It’s no different in reality from an equal access [standpoint] than Widmar, Rosenberger, Lamb’s Chapel and the Good News Club case,” Staver said. “This, however, does the same thing that some of those governments were trying to do — exclude religious viewpoints — but it does it in a more subtle way. Instead of saying Christians can’t meet on campus because of your Christian viewpoint, it selects a particular belief that is contrary to Christians with regards to sexuality and says, ‘We’re going to require that belief to be shared by everybody, and that’s whether you’re atheist, Christian or non-Christian.'”