The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a state law school’s anti-discrimination policy that requires recognized student groups to admit “all comers” as members, over the objection of a religious group that did not want to allow nonadherents to join. The Christian Legal Society chapter at the University of California Hastings College of the Law argued that the policy violated its First Amendment rights to free expression, free exercise of religion and freedom of association by requiring it to allow members who do not share their religious beliefs.
But the high court ruled, 5-4, that the policy is a “reasonable and viewpoint-neutral” condition placed on becoming a recognized group, which entitles organizations to certain funding and access to campus facilities. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the religious group is free to exclude nonadherents if it forgoes recognized status. “Hastings … is dangling the carrot of subsidy, not wielding the stick of prohibition,” Ginsburg wrote. She dismissed concerns voiced by the society that the policy would encourage “hostile takeovers” of groups like theirs by nonadherents whose aim is sabotage. “This supposition strikes us as more hypothetical than real,” she wrote. “Students tend to self-sort.”
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