Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Court enshrines political correctness

July 6, 2010

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“I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

That familiar one-liner has been attributed over the years to the late Groucho Marx, but in light of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision this week in the case of Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez (UC Hastings), the sentiment it contains may have some contemporary legal relevance.

The Court ruled that a public university is not required to subsidize campus groups it considers discriminatory. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) excludes homosexuals and non-Christians. But isn’t the court allowing the university to discriminate against the beliefs of the Christian group, especially if the group is now required to admit people who violate teachings central to its faith and mission statement?

In writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the school’s policy, which requires student organizations to be open to everyone to qualify for official status, “ensures that no Hastings student is forced to fund a group that would reject her as a member.” I wonder if this would apply to a member of CLS if they applied for membership in the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender club, or anything else that may come down the pike. Will campus Jewish groups be required to admit Christians? Maybe the football team can bring a discrimination suit against the school for not allowing them to shower with the women’s lacrosse team. The Court’s ruling in the CLS case is no less far-fetched.

Student activity fees have long subsidized campus organizations whose beliefs and practices no doubt offend and are counter to the beliefs and practices of other students. The way the legal game is played, the beliefs of Christian groups can be regularly offended, but gay and other groups favored by the secular left enjoy special status from academic elites. This is what passes for pluralism, tolerance and academic freedom on college campuses.

Reacting to the Court’s decision, constitutional attorney John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute said, “The Supreme Court has now enshrined political correctness as a central tenet in American society and in American university life. This decision is yet another broadsided attack on the First Amendment, especially religious freedom. It will force well-meaning groups to abandon the tenets of their faith in order to be granted the same privileges and freedoms afforded to other campus groups and organizations. If not, they will face discrimination.”

Dissenting justices said the Court is punishing the Christian organization because of its views. Justice Samuel Alito said the ruling means “no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, during oral arguments, articulated the problem with what emerged as the majority ruling: “It is so weird to require the campus Republican Club to admit Democrats, not just to membership, but to officership,” he said. “To require this Christian society to allow atheists not just to join, but to conduct Bible classes, right? That’s crazy.”

The ruling is consistent with many other Court decisions over the past five decades. In contests between “Christians and lions,” the Court too often has sided with the lions, making Christians second-class citizens, while upgrading to preferred-class status those who oppose faith and its requirements.

The CLS can always seek private funding, but would it still be allowed to meet on campus and decide for itself who can be a member if it no longer takes funds from the university? The university could easily decide that only groups approved by the school get to have access to campus facilities, which would further discriminate and isolate the Christian group. And that would probably suit the gay groups, whose activism — especially in San Francisco — appears to be openly hostile to religious faith and tradition.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. tmseditors@tribune.com

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

It's really not that difficult, Cal. If a group wants to discriminate, all they have to do is do it on their own dime, not the university's.

beatrice 5 years ago

That is it in a nutshell. Nice way to sum it up Bozo. Nothing politically correct about it. You can't discriminate at the university's expense.

John Hamm 5 years ago

But the point is missed - other discriminatory groups can exclude members yet still conduct their meetings, etc. using university funds and facilities..... Seems fairly plain to me.

Peter Macfarlane 5 years ago

Other discriminatory groups - which? Even though you might not be gay I'm quite sure you could join their groups at KU if you wish. I am also quite sure that other "discriminatory" groups will now have to amend their membership requirements in light of this case. That seems plain to me.

As usual Cal is doing his best in his columns to muddy the waters with red herrings. I'm quite sure that if a Muslim instead of a Christian Legal Society had been at the center of the case, we would not have heard a peep out of Cal. He definitely has his agenda!

tolawdjk 5 years ago

Same court that on, I think the same day, overturned Chicago's handgun ban. (I happen to agree with that decision).

What is your take on that Cal? That decision certainly wasn't enshrining political correctness.

beatrice 5 years ago

Traitors? Now when judges don't agree with your view of things they are traitors? Justices who want to uphold state and city rights are traitors? Stunning, but given your avatar I don't expect you to be any less conservative than the Taliban.

I have no doubt that if you had been alive at the time of the American Revolution, you wouldn't have wanted to join those liberals who fought for independance from the King. I am confident you would have been on the side of the conservatives who supported the British.

Besides, you won the gun case! Quit your crybaby whining already! Geez, will you conservatives ever quit your sobbing?

jaywalker 5 years ago

Yeah, right, bea. Your catterwalling might carry some weight if you ever jumped on ivalueamerica for her use of the label "traitor" each and every time she posts.

Jimo 5 years ago

"In contests between “Christians and lions,” the Court too often has sided with the lions, making Christians second-class citizens, while upgrading to preferred-class status those who oppose faith and its requirements."

More like between one group of Christians and another group of Christians, making one group who insists on the right to define Christianity to its own liking and exclude all others whose faith differs.

Sorry, Cal but government doesn't discriminate against you just because it won't enforce your discrimination against others.

jafs 5 years ago

He has some convoluted reasoning, but there are some interesting questions.

Will women's groups be required to allow men to join? Will gay, lesbian, etc. groups be required to allow straight people to join? Will black and other minority groups be required to allow whites to join?

If not, he is right.

And, part of the whole point of groups, especially minority ones, is to create a sense of community and support - often this works better when the group is composed of people who experience similar issues. If open to all, would those groups fulfill their purpose as well?

Somehow we decided that men's clubs, colleges, etc. were wrong, but now we have women's colleges and black colleges - how are they not similarly wrong?

ebyrdstarr 5 years ago

If you read the actual opinion, you would find that any and all groups that receive funding from the law school have to be open to all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I think ebyrdstarr is right-- all organizations that receive funding will have to be open to all.

But the overall effect of this ruling will be negligible. The Young Republicans will still be made up almost exclusively of Republicans, Gay organizations will be made up primarily of gays, and so on.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Cal does not believe that those Christians who welcome gay people are Christians. Or they aren't Christian enough. These Christian radicals are as scary as the Islam radicals.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

That's a lot of wasted words to pose a series of questions to which the answer is always, "yes" if those groups wish to be recognized.

Well, all but one - " Maybe the football team can bring a discrimination suit against the school for not allowing them to shower with the women’s lacrosse team."

That's just stupid, and shows you how the mind of Cal Thomas really works. Pervert.

funkdog1 5 years ago

Cal said: "But isn’t the court allowing the university to discriminate against the beliefs of the Christian group, especially if the group is now required to admit people who violate teachings central to its faith and mission statement?"

That's where Cal makes his biggest mistake. Since when is it "central" to the Christian faith to turn away homosexuals and non-Christians? This is clearly NOT what Jesus taught.

jafs 5 years ago

Also they're only required to do that if they receive public funding - otherwise they're free to discriminate as they wish.

AnnaUndercover 5 years ago

"God help us from those who believe that they are the sole possessors of truth. How we manage at times to agree willingly to become prisoners within our own minds and souls of beliefs and ideas on which we can never be flexible." -Hussein I

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

As usual, Cal obscures the real point with his persecution complex right wing christian rhetoric.

The result of this ruling will likely be that any organization receiving funds will need to include anyone who wants to join, regardless of religion, sex, etc.

This is a good thing, as any organization that cannot include all members of society should probably not receive public funds, including atheist groups that exclude christians and christian groups the exclude homosexuals.

On deeper analysis, Cal is doubly wrong. There is a difference between "natural exclusion" and "exclusion of choice".

Being a man naturally excludes men from women's activities such as breast feeding or sports, for example. Being a muslim naturally excludes muslims from being christian, although I would see no problem with muslims joining christian groups and vice versa. Or religious people joining atheist groups.

However, being gay does not naturally exclude one from being a christian or a muslim or an atheist.

Excluding gays is an exclusion of choice. Not all christian groups exclude gays, so if one does, it is an exclusion of choice.

Hiding behind the idea that first amendment rights are being trampled because one is not allowed to discriminate with public funds is a red herring. This is called discrimination, and it is a choice this group is making.

No one is prohibiting them for forming an organization, but public funds should not be used to support exclusions of choice, also called discrimination.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

What if a christian white supremacist group did not allow blacks or hispanics or asians and wanted public support?

There is nothing about being black or hispanic or asian that excludes one from being a chrisitian, so this would also be an exclusion of choice and should not be publically funded (despite the possibility that first amendment rights of the white supremacists are violated ; )

jafs 5 years ago

So private businesses are allowed to discriminate?

I think that's false - there are federal laws barring various forms of discrimination.

denak 5 years ago

I wonder if Cal Thomas even read this decision. This case had nothing to do with religion and both sides stated this in the stipulation of facts.

The case is simply this: Hastings has an "all comers" policy for every group on campus. This policy is to promote the education of all students by all students having access to all groups on campus. However, CLS violated this policy by making their members sign a statement of faith that excluded anyone, including other Christians, who did not sign and adhere to that statement of faith. Let me point out that this was not a religion based group but a legal group.

The lower court ruled against CLS. It was only then that CLS tried to say that they were being discriminated against based on religion. (A charge contradicted by their earlier statement of facts)

The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision that Hastings all comers policy was valid and legal.

Take away Cal's inflammatory rhetoric and this case boils down to one simple thing: Does a university have the right to put conditions on the formal recognition of any group?

And I think most people would say "yes." If the university's goal is to promote differing viewpoints and educational opportunities to all students, then they have the right to say that all organizations have to allow all students in. And yes, that means allowing atheists into religious based organization, Democrats into Republican groups, Men into Women's groups etc. If the individual is disruptive, then that is another matter but in regards to attendance, all individuals should be allowed.

The Supreme Court made the right decision.

Dena

P.S. You can read the actual 85 page decision at supremecourt.gov

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