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In a 5-4 decision this morning, the Supreme Court said that a California law school can require a Christian group to open its leadership positions to all students, including those who disagree with the group's statement of faith.

The majority opinion, issued by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said that Hastings College of the Law's "all comers" policy, which required all groups to open all positions to all students, "is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum." The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the University of California school, Ginsburg wrote, "seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings' policy."

"Hastings, caught in the crossfire between a group's desire to exclude and students' demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership." Ginsburg wrote.

However, Ginsburg gave some hope to CLS, which had argued that Hastings officials had selectively enforced its "all comers" policy, allowing organizations like the Latino group La Raza, but not CLS, to have rules restricting its membership. Noting that lower courts had not addressed is accusation of selective enforcement (and that the Supreme Court "is not the proper forum to air the issue in the first instance"), Ginsburg said the Ninth Circuit Court could consider the argument.

CLS attorney Michael W. McConnell, a prominent constitutional law attorney and director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, said the organization will press the point at the Ninth Circuit. "We ...

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June 2010

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