In ‘Christian Legal Society v. Martinez’, the United Sates Supreme Court addressed the question of whether Hastings College of Law, a public institution, could deny recognition to a religious student organization that required its officers and voting members to hold certain religious viewpoints. Does the inclusive mission of a public university require or prohibit recognition of exclusive organizations expressing religious beliefs? Forty advocacy organizations of various stripes filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of either position, which suggests the significance of the issue. This case presented a unique challenge because the Court was forced to balance the students’ constitutional rights of free exercise of religion and of association against the university’s constitutional prohibitions against favoring a particular religious viewpoint or discriminating against other viewpoints or classes of individuals. Given this clash of conflicting constitutional interests, one can certainly sympathize with Justice Breyer, who wondered aloud at oral arguments, “What do I do with this case?” This paper will attempt to answer that question.
|Keywords:||Religious Freedom, Separation of Church and State, Constitutional Rights, Religion and Higher Education|
Academic Coordinator and Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA