Candace has already blogged about today’s Supreme Court decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, in which the Court ruled that the Hastings College of Law’s anti-discrimination policy, requiring the CLS to admit LGBT students over religious objections, does not violate the First Amendment rights of CLS.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the CLS, issued a statement asserting that the case will have a “limited impact” because it knows of no other university that has an identical policy to Hastings. It quotes a CLS lawyer, Kim Colby: “All college students, including religious students, should have the right to form groups around shared beliefs without being banished from campus.”
Of course the CLS wasn’t faced with being banished from campus. It only faced not receiving all the benefits of official recognition, such as use of limited student activity fees. But the framing is typical of how the religious right pits LGBT rights against religious freedom — insisting the two can’t co-exist, in this case because the CLS can’t require LGBT students to denounce their own “sexually immoral lifestyle.”
This has long been the strategy of the religious right, in higher education and other forums. And while the Martinez case is limited to an interpretation of the Hastings policy, it will be precedent for other similar cases even if the anti-discrimination policy isn’t identical. The religious right is concerned, no doubt; the ADF is already citing Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent, warning that the decision “arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups.” That interpretation of what ADF president Alan Sears once described as the “collision course” between the “homosexual agenda” and religious freedom is the heart of the religious right’s opposition to LGBT equality, so it’s hard to imagine that a backlash to the decision isn’t on the horizon.
Ironically, the religious right is opposing Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, as the Secular Coalition for America is also opposing it because, in part, of Kagan’s expressed sympathy for the religious right’s very position. As I reported this morning, the SCA has concerns about Kagan’s denigration of a Supreme Court case which held that a landlord could not discriminate against an unmarried couple based on her religious beliefs — suggesting that her position just may be closer to the supporters of the Christian Legal Society than to the Secular Coalition.