The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled yesterday that a California law school could lawfully bar the school's Christian Legal Society from being recognized as a student group for requiring its members to sign a statement of faith. The ruling could set a precedent for the way Christian organizations can or cannot retain their distinct religious beliefs at public colleges with nondiscrimination policies.
The CLS chapter at the University of California's Hastings College of Law filed a lawsuit in fall 2004 against the college for denying it status as a registered student organization. According to CLS's brief, it was denied official recognition for requiring members to sign a statement of faith, which, among other things, prohibits homosexual conduct. Hastings officials had said CLS's standards violated the school's nondiscrimination policy, which says all student groups "shall not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, ...1