In a split 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law could legally remove official recognition to a Christian organization called the Christian Legal Society because of its prohibition of gays in the group. The majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued that Hastings’ anti-discrimination code did not, as the group alleged, violate the Christian Legal Society’s First Amendment rights.
However, according to the Los Angeles Times, Ginsburg and the Court majority ignored “the broader challenges raised by the Christian group to the university’s anti-discrimination policy.” The CLS originally sued the university because it believed it was being denied recognition due to its “core religious viewpoints.” Ginsburg and the court majority, however, did not even address whether the CLS was being discriminated against in direct violation of Hastings’ anti-discrimination code, rather choosing to decide whether or not the code was constitutional. By limiting the scope of the case, the majority opinion effectively ensured that the core issues at stake would not be heard.
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote a minority dissent, called this ruling a “serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.” He argued that the decision creates a principle of “no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.” I believe he hit the nail on the head. One can only imagine how the court would have ruled if a pro-gay group had sued a school for not allowing it to prohibit Christians from joining.
In the broader scheme of things, this decision is just one more in a line of activist rulings made by the Supreme Court in recent years. The Founding Fathers clearly intended the Supreme Court to use the Constitution as their guide. The Justices today instead rely on their own thoughts and beliefs. It is a shame that the personal opinions of nine (or in this case, five) Justices can shape the judicial system in America. On Monday the victim was the Christian Legal Society. The real question is: who (or what) will be next?