A strange ruling from the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a public university can refuse to officially recognize a Christian student group that bars membership to those who violate its beliefs.
In a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines, the high court agreed with a decision by the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco to refuse to grant a campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society because it expressly barred gays and non-Christians.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy, the court’s frequent swing vote, agreed with the school. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas sided with the Christian group.
The school said the group’s membership requirements violated the university’s anti-discrimination policies, which require groups on campus to allow members regardless of sexual orientation or religion. The group claimed that the school’s policies violated its First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion.
A federal district court and federal appeals court previously sided with the school against the Christian students.
Writing for the majority, Justice Ginsburg said the First Amendment shielded the Christian Legal Society from discrimination at the hands of the state-run university, but it did not give the Christian group the right to exclude people while receiving the benefits of the university’s resources.
“Exclusion, after all, has two sides,” she wrote. “Hastings, caught in the crossfire between a groups desire to exclude and students demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership.”
Set aside the gay issue. A Christian group must admit non-Christians? Does that mean a liberal group must admit conservatives? Do Marxist groups have to admit Capitalists who in sufficient numbers might then vote to change the group’s mission? What does “group” mean if it has no collective identity or membership boundaries?
(The solution for affected Christian groups: Don’t take college money.)