If we follow the logic of the Supreme Court, a Muslim could lead the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship club on your local campus. As absurd as this sounds, it is the very real, potential outcome of some recent Court rulings, and it is in keeping with the decisions made independently by a number of colleges and universities.
In June, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the “University of California’s Hastings College of the Law acted reasonably, and in a viewpoint-neutral manner, in refusing to officially recognize and give funds to a campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society because the group refused to abide by the school’s requirement that student groups open their membership to all” (as reported by Peter Schmidt for The Chronicle of Higher Education).
The university had been sued by the Alliance Defense Fund when, “The school refused to recognize the campus Christian Legal Society chapter, Hastings Christian Fellowship (HCF), because it [would] not agree to a non-discrimination policy that would require the group to admit homosexuals and non-Christians as members and officers.”
In expressing the majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that it is “hard to imagine a more viewpoint-neutral policy than one requiring all student groups to accept all comers,” noting that, “Hastings, caught in the crossfire between a group’s desire to exclude and students’ demand for equal access, may reasonably draw a line in the sand permitting all organizations to express what they wish but no group to discriminate in membership.”
In a strongly-worded dissenting view for the minority, Justice Samuel Alito claimed that “the majority opinion rested on the principle of “no freedom of expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning,” warning that, “The court’s treatment of this case is deeply disappointing” and its decision “arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.