Cathy Young on Why ‘Martinez’ is a Dangerous Precedent

By July 7, 2010

On Reason‘s website, Cathy Young has a column about why the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez could “set a dangerous precedent in sacrificing freedom for equality’s sake.” As Torch readers remember from our posts last week, the Supreme Court in Martinez upheld the University of California Hastings College of the Law’s denial of official recognition to the Christian Legal Society. The denial was due to a requirement by CLS that all voting members and leaders sign a statement of faith, which Hastings said was in violation of an “all-comers” policy that mandated that all officially recognized student groups accept all students as members. Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found the all-comers policy constitutional.

Young calls the Hastings all-comers policy “absurd on its face.” She asks a central question in Martinez: “Do the College Republicans have to welcome Democrats as members, and vice versa? Does a feminist student group have to admit people who openly believe that men are divinely ordained to rule over women, and to allow them to vote on issues related to the group’s activities and policies?” The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative, leaving student groups across the country and us at FIRE scratching our heads about what a Christian group populated by atheists, for example, would look like.

Young shares many of the concerns that FIRE has written about here on The Torch, such as the possibility in the wake of Martinez of hostile takeovers of campus groups by students who wish to silence those with whom they disagree.

Please check our her column to see what else she has to say about Martinez.

Schools: University of California Cases: University of California Hastings College of the Law: Denial of Recognition to Christian Law School Group