More Reactions to CLS v. Martinez

The American Flag parachutes into the middle of a NASCAR race. That's pretty American!

Happy Fourth of July! Er – make that, the Fifth of July. In the spirit of the holiday, let’s talk about the Bill of Rights.

Last week, I posted some links and quotes about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Click here for my initial post about the ruling.

What are your thoughts? How do you think this ruling will affect Christian organizations on college campuses?

As you might expect, CLS has a thorough summary, analysis, and lots of links. Though this comes from CLS, this perspective seems to be emerging as a consensus view:

The holding is very narrow, and applies only to the Hastings-style “all comers” policy, which does not exist at any other public university. This means that CLS v. Walker 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006) is still good law. Walker held that a traditional non-discrimination policy may not be applied to religious groups who require a statement of faith from members.

For example, the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that the ruling is “unlikely to end litigation” in the area of freedom of association, freedom of religion, and non-discrimination policies.

Legal scholar Eugene Volokh, in a New York Daily News editorial, thinks that the court made the right decision, but isn’t sure that the Hastings College of Law has:

I think this policy was unwise. Exclusionary groups bring special perspectives that can enrich discussion at the university. In practice, a self-described conservative Christian group will likely attract conservative Christian members even if the group must formally accept everyone. But it’s better not to rely on this tendency, and to instead let each group preserve its voice by excluding members who might undermine that voice.

InterVarsity’s official statement expresses concern that the ruling will affect campus ministry.

“Today’s decision is disappointing and will likely change the way we operate on some campuses,” said InterVarsity president Alec Hill. “However, whether our chapters are recognized as official student groups or not, we are confident that God will continue to be at work transforming the lives of students and faculty across the country. We plan to continue to minister at both public and private schools. As we have for the past seven decades, we will be responsible campus citizens and pursue Truth prayerfully. We will do so with civility, humility and biblical integrity.”

Adam Goldberg of the Student Press Law Center takes a dim view of the ruling, while SPLC’s executive director, Frank LoMonte, raises an excellent question in a blog post:

The question left after Monday’s decision is: Could a college refuse funding to a conservative or liberal student newspaper on the grounds of a “viewpoint neutral” rule that required all publications to present a representative cross-section of diverse student opinions? That the answer to that question is no longer unmistakably “no” illustrates why Christian Legal Society’s reasoning is cause for concern.

What are your thoughts? How do you think this ruling will affect Christian organizations on college campuses?

Please note: This blog does not represent any official positions of InterVarsity regarding this case. I don’t think that I offer any opinions or analysis of the ruling in these posts, but if I do, they are solely the opinions of yours truly.

Photo credit: Who else? Bristol Motor Speedway

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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