Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The New York Times Gets Hastings Wrong

Greg Baylor
April 30th, 2010

In a house editorial, the New York Times urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against Christian Legal Society and for Hastings College of the Law in CLS v. Martinez. What follows is a response, submitted to but not published by The Times.

In the case just argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the public should be wary of any superficial analysis that the case is all about “discrimination” by a Christian student club and a law school that wants to stop it. While it’s true that Hastings College of the Law in California prohibits “discrimination,” this assertion of what Hastings does is terribly misleading.

Hastings doesn’t just prohibit discrimination on the basis of the nine protected characteristics listed in its written Policy on Nondiscrimination; it also requires registered student organizations to confer voting membership and leadership upon everyone—even people who reject an organization’s core beliefs. As the Hastings dean stated in a PBS interview, this means that a black student organization would be required to allow adherents of the Ku Klux Klan to become voting members. Such a nonsensical policy goes far beyond preventing the sort of invidious reliance upon irrelevant characteristics that non-discrimination policies are designed to prevent.

A recent New York Times editorial referred to CLS as a “Christian group that bars non-Christian and gay students.” While CLS limits leadership and voting membership to those that share its values as many student clubs do, it allows everyone to attend its meetings and participate in its events. Moreover, CLS’s sexual conduct rule for officers and voting members does not target “gay students.” Tiger Woods and Mark Sanford, for example, aren’t “gay,” but if they were students, they would have trouble becoming CLS officers. the rest


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