U.S. Supreme Court Says No to Christian Student Club at Prominent Law School

Washington, D.C – In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a law school chapter of the Christian Legal Society located at the University of California’s Hastings School of Law. The law school denied official recognition to the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society. While CLS welcomes anyone to attend meetings and events, it requires that the officers and voting members who provide direction for the Society agree with and abide by the group’s Statement of Faith. UC Hastings considers CLS’ faith requirement to be in conflict with the school’s non-discrimination policies. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of UC Hastings, relying on one of the Ninth Circuit’s earlier rulings that had barred a Christian high school club from requiring that its leaders affirm a statement of faith. In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito cited a brief from Agudath Israel of America, writing that the decision “point[s] a judicial dagger at the heart of the Orthodox Jewish community in the United States.”

Kevin Snider, chief counsel of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “This case will likely have serious repercussions for Christian student clubs in schools throughout the country. Club officers should contact the Pacific Justice Institute’s Legal Department to discuss their options.” The PJI represents and advises Christian student clubs on the federal Equal Access Act as well as student speech rights on a routine basis.