Religious University allowed to continue not recognizing LGBTQ student group for now, SCOTUS says

Religious University allowed to continue not recognizing LGBTQ student group for now, SCOTUS says
Image via Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway

A religious university can continue to refuse to recognize an LGBTQ student organization for now, the Supreme Court said in a Friday evening order from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

A lower court had ordered Yeshiva University, a private Orthodox Jewish research school in New York City to recognize the student group, but Justice Sotomayor, who has jurisdiction over the Second Circuit, which includes Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, temporarily stayed that ruling, “pending further order,” as lower court and state court cases continue.

“A New York state trial court ruled that as a public accommodation, Yeshiva was covered under the New York City Human Rights Law and required to provide the Pride Alliance the same access to facilities as dozens of other student groups,” The Washington Post reports. “The group said that means access to a classroom, bulletin boards and a club fair booth.”

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Yeshiva is an Orthodox institution, and the “Orthodox tradition only supports heterosexual relations and only within the context of heterosexual marriage,” the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has said.

Well-known University of Texas School of Law Professor of law Steve Vladeck called Justice Sonomayor’s decision “surprising.”

“Justice Sotomayor, acting by herself, has stayed a New York state trial court’s injunction that had ordered Yeshiva University to recognize an LGBTQ student group. This surprising—both that she acted without referring the matter to the full Court and that she granted a stay,” Vladeck said.

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage says that while Sotomayor’s move does not say how the full Supreme Court will ultimately rule, the conservative “majority will likely allow discrimination as religious freedom.”

READ MORE: Columnist likens U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority to a ‘junta in long black robes’

Indeed, María Montserrat Alvarado, the executive director of the right-wing Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has been described as “Shadow Agents of the Religious Right,” hailed Justice Sotomayor’s decision.

“Justice Sotomayor just protected Yeshiva University from having to violate its Torah values and betray its religious identity,” Alvarado tweeted. “This is an important moment for a religious institution that the Jewish community relies on for continuity.”

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