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The U.S. Supreme Court has started hearing arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the case that concerns whether the University of California’s Hastings College of Law can deny formal recognition (including organizational funding) to the student religious group that denies membership based on religion and sexual orientation.

Not surprisingly, the Associated Press reports that the justices seem sharply split on the case so far, including tough questions from the newest members:

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito questioned the school’s lawyer sharply, saying that being forced to admit someone who doesn’t share their beliefs was a threat to the group. But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor pressed the group’s lawyer on notion that if they can ban gays, other groups can legally ban women and minorities.

and:

“Are you suggesting that if a group wanted to exclude all black people, all women, all handicapped persons, whatever other form of discrimination a group wants to practice, that a school has to accept that group and recognize it, give it funds and otherwise lend it space?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

and:

Say “there is a small Muslim group; it has 10 students. If the group is required to accept anybody who applies for membership, and 50 students who hate Muslims show up and they want to take over that group, you say First Amendment allows that?” Alito said.

The court is expected to rule on the case this summer. For more background information and analysis, check out the Religion Clause and GetReligion blogs. Check back here for updates, and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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