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WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday (Dec. 7) to hear the case of an evangelical Christian group that was prevented from being recognized as a campus organization at a California law school because it excluded gays and lesbians.
The Christian Legal Society sued to be officially recognized at the public Hastings College of Law — part of the University of California in San Francisco — but was denied because it excluded membership to gays and non-Christians. Officials from the group said the school’s policy violated their freedoms of speech, religion and association.
“Public universities shouldn’t single out Christian student groups for discrimination,” said Kim Colby, senior counsel for the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom, in a statement. “All student groups have the right to associate with people of like-mind and interest.”
Hastings said the organization must comply with the school’s nondiscrimination policy to receive formal recognition, which gives them access to resources and travel funds.
“This case is about fundamental fairness,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed an amicus brief on Hastings’ behalf. “If the student religious group wins, it will mean some students will be compelled to support clubs that won’t even admit them as members. That’s just not right.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school.
The high court will hear the case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, in the spring.

By Matthew E. Berger
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission

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