In a case pitting free-speech rights against anti-discrimination policies, the Supreme Court this week ruled that a California law school could refuse to recognize and subsidize a campus Christian group that effectively banned gays. The group — the Christian Legal Society — claimed that the University of California trampled its religious rights, but the court said in a 5-to-4 ruling that the school was merely enforcing a requirement that student groups accept all students interested in joining. Was this a win or loss for basic American rights?
It's school administrators who are being discriminatory: By denying the Christian Legal Society recognition, college officials are engaging "in the discriminatory conduct they condemn," says Wendy Kaminer in The Atlantic. They're "excluding people who will not pledge allegiance to official views" — in this case, the prevailing view on campus that homosexuality and premarital sex are okay. Like it or not, "private religious groups have essential First Amendment rights to exclude heretics," and it's the duty of public officials to protect them.
"Christian group denied recognition"
We shouldn't be protecting the right to hate: A public school shouldn't have to legitimize "student groups that exclude or attack other students," says John Cole at Balloon Juice. The court's conservatives, who were fortunately on the losing side this time, claim they just want to apply the original meaning of the Constitution. But you really have to twist the Founding Fathers' meaning to argue that Washington and Jefferson intended the government to fund school groups who believe that God hates gays.
"Good news from the Supreme Court — barely"
The court didn't go far enough: Unfortunately, the university and the court merely said all students must be treated equally, say the editors of The New York Times. The school requires all groups to accept "all comers" — so anti-gay Christian groups must accept gays, just as Islamic groups must accept Jews. But the Supreme Court's majority "should have used this case to clearly state that government funds cannot be used to support discrimination," ever. Justice John Paul Stevens "said it best: 'A free society must tolerate such groups. It need not subsidize them.'"
"The court: Denying government support for intolerance"