On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court—in a bitterly divided 54 vote—upheld a public university's right to enforce an "all-comers" antidiscrimination policy against a student group affiliated with the Christian Legal Society (CLS).
As president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA—and as a former professor of law—I have concerns about how this decision may impact our 860 chapters and other campus ministries.
1. Legal Impact
Narrowly construed, the court upheld Hastings Law School's right to require all recognized student organizations to abide by its "all-comers" antidiscrimination policy. This unusual policy mandates that all school-approved groups "allow any student to participate, become a member, or seek leadership positions in the organization, regardless of [her] status or beliefs."
To date, I am aware of only one other public university—a regional school in Maine—that has a similar policy. On its face, the policy seems logically inconsistent and impossible to enforce. Will Democratic student clubs really accept Republicans as leaders? Will Hillel, a national Jewish campus group, embrace Muslim students as voting members? Will Sierra Club chapters follow student leaders who deny global warming?
It is difficult to imagine a large university like Ohio State adopting an "all-comers" policy. Student groups representing affinity groups such as sororities, Latinos, atheists, or the LGBT community would be required to admit anyone and everyone into their inner circles. Sororities, for example, would have to admit male students. The result would be chaotic.
Two factors make this decision particularly disconcerting. First, despite the technical narrowness of the holding, the majority ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more