Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Last modified 2011.09.15

  • Status Closed
  • Type Amicus
  • Court U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Issues Discrimination in Name of Religion, LGBTQ Rights, Religious and Racial Equality, Religious Discrimination in Schools, Schools and Learning

The Christian Legal Society challenged the University of California Hastings College of Law’s nondiscrimination policy, which prohibits official recognition of student organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation. CLS sought Hastings’s official recognition, which would have allowed the group to receive school funding and to use the school’s name and facilities. Hastings denied the request because CLS requires its members to sign a statement of faith and denies membership to persons who engage in “unrepentant homosexual conduct.”

CLS sued to challenge the requirement. A federal trial court in California ruled against CLS, concluding that the nondiscrimination policy does not infringe the free-speech, free-association, free-exercise, or equal-protection rights of CLS’s members.

CLS appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and in January 2007, we filed an amicus brief supporting the nondiscrimination policy. The Ninth Circuit upheld the trial court’s decision.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and we joined an amicus brief supporting the nondiscrimination policy. In June 2010, the Supreme Court ruled against CLS and upheld the nondiscrimination policy. The Court concluded that the policy does not violate CLS’s First Amendment rights because compliance with the policy is a reasonable condition on student organizations receiving official recognition and because the policy does not discriminate on the basis of the organizations’ viewpoints.


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