CFI Submits Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.

March 18, 2010

On Monday, March 15, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez .  CFI argued that religious student organizations do not have the constitutional right to violate public colleges' non-discrimination policies. 

The case concerns a student chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of California, Hastings College of Law.  CLS sued the school after being denied official recognition and funding because the student group excluded non-Christian, gay and lesbian students, in violation of the school's non-discrimination policy.  That policy requires that student groups can receive funding and official recognition only if they are open to all students.  CLS maintains that enforcement of this policy interferes with the group’s right to free speech and free exercise of religion.

"The Court should reject CLS's request for special exemptions that are unavailable to other student groups.  No student organization has a constitutional right to receive public funds while violating generally applicable non-discrimination policies, simply because it is religious organization," said Derek C. Araujo, general counsel of the Center for Inquiry.  "If a student club wants to violate a non-discrimination policy that applies to every other student club, it can do so -- but without school funding and official recognition."

CFI’s president & CEO Ronald A. Lindsay believes that the Christian Legal Society is attempting to distort the meaning of the Free Speech Clause by maintaining the Constitution requires the government to allow discriminatory conduct by a state-funded student group.  “The Center for Inquiry is a stalwart defender of free speech, but that implies we must not only protect free speech, but also be vigilant about efforts to misrepresent and manipulate our constitutional liberties,” said Lindsay.