When the Supreme Court ruled that a Christian student group could only be recognized at a small public law school if it accepted non-Christians and gays as potential leaders, some lawyers and campus advocates grew nervous.
While the 5-4 decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez was primarily aimed at public colleges and universities, some conservatives say the decision has upended university religious life, with both public and private schools reconsidering nondiscrimination rules.
Now, nearly two years after the decision involving the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, the case is causing strife across U.S. college campuses:
• InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says 41 of its campus chapters have faced challenges since the Supreme Court decision. Many have been resolved, but the IVCF chapter at the State University of New York at Buffalo plans to appeal its loss of official recognition for asking a gay student leader to resign when he would not accept its belief statement.
• In one of the most visible debates, private Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., has said some religious groups won't be officially recognized if they require certain beliefs or do not allow all members to compete for leadership roles. On the website about its nondiscrimination policy, the school cited the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in defending the constitutionality of the rules.
• Lawmakers in Ohio and Arizona passed bills to ensure that public colleges and universities didn't go down the same road as Hastings. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, said he would veto similar legislation only because it also included private universities that receive more than $24 million in state funds — namely, ...1
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