The Christian Legal Society chapter at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, filed a lawsuit Oct. 22 against school officials, reported the Christian Wire Service.
The student group says it was denied official recognition by the university because it would not agree to accept members and officers, who openly oppose their Christian beliefs.
The university claims the chapter’s leadership and membership criteria violate the school's Policy on Nondiscrimination. But the Christian Legal Society claims that the university is violating the First Amendment rights.
The student group asked school officials in early September to exempt it and other religious student organizations from the religion and sexual orientation portions of the policy.
School officials denied the chapter's request, stating “to be one of our student-recognized organizations, the CLS chapter must open its membership to all students irrespective of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation.” The school then stripped the student group of its yearly funding.
“It is outrageous that the University of California, which was at the epicenter of the struggle for campus free speech in the 1960s, should now refuse to recognize a student group's fundamental right to choose to associate with those who share their beliefs,” stated Steven H. Aden, chief litigation counsel for the Center for Law & Religious Freedom.
The lawsuit was filed by the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law & Religious Freedom, the Alliance Defense Fund, and allied attorneys Timothy Smith and Stephen Burlingham in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of the plaintiffs.
The Christian Legal Society, founded in 1961, is the national membership organization of Christian attorneys, judges, law professors and law students, as well as supportive laypeople in all 50 states and in more than 1,100 cities.