The Supreme Court let stand the lower court decision upholding San Diego State’s discriminatory exclusion of a Christian fraternity and a Christian sorority from access to the channels of communication with students on campus. In a one sentence order with no comment, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. San Diego State prohibited campus Christian organizations from requiring their members and leaders to agree with the organization’s statement of faith, but allowed other student organizations to require members and leaders to agree with the viewpoints the groups advocate. The Ninth Circuit upheld the San Diego’s State’s requirement as constitutional, and ADF appealed to the Supreme Court.
ADF attorney David Cortman issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s actions:
“Public universities should encourage, not censor, the free exchange of ideas. But for now, the supposed marketplace of ideas at San Diego State University will remain a stronghold for censorship. We wish the Supreme Court would have used this opportunity to make clear that the First Amendment protects the right of student groups to employ belief-based criteria in selecting their members and leaders.”
“Throughout the years of defending its policy, the university did not tell the Democratic club it must be led by a Republican, or the vegetarian club that it must be led by a meat-eater, but it did tell Christian groups that they must allow themselves to be led by atheists. Even its purported, 11th-hour policy change made at the doorstep of the Supreme Court continues to treat religious groups less favorably than many other student groups. When political conformity is placed ahead of the constitutionally protected rights of students, all students–including students of faith–suffer.”
ADF will continue the fight for the rights of private student organizations to define their membership and select their leaders without interference or retaliation by state university officials. Please contact ADF if you are encountering similar problems at your state university.