SCOTUS: UC Hastings Law School Didn't Violate 1st Amendment

By Neetal Parekh on June 28, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What do you get when you put "law school", "party", and "SCOTUS" together? 

Yeah, maybe not that.

But in a landmark Supreme Court decision this week, in which UC Hastings Law School was a party, SCOTUS ruled 5-4 in favor of the public law school's decision not to grant recognition to a Christian student organization.

The Case: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

You may recall that back in December 2009, the Supreme court granted certiorari to hear a case brought by the Christian Legal Society, a faith-based student organization with a chapter at UC Hastings. The student organization cried 1st Amendment foul when UC Hastings refused to grant it official student org status on campus.

UC Hastings defended its position pointing to the CLS requirement that that required voting members and club officers to sign a "Statement of Faith"--which included language specifying that "Christians should not engage in sexual conduct outside of a marriage between a man an a woman."

School officials saw this as discrimination against non-heterosexuals and those who do not espouse to the Christian faith.  UC Hastings stated that the CLS requirement violated a school policy forbidding discrimination in its affiliated programs.

Ginsberg pens the decision, Alito the dissent.

Justice Ginsberg took to articulating the decision in which she stated "In accord with the District Court and the Court of Appeals, we reject CLS's First Amendment challenge. Compliance with Hastings' all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum."

Ginsburg further concluded, "In requiring CLS--in common with all other student organizations -- to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations."

In the dissent, Justice Alito wrote ""The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express 'the thought that we hate'...Today's decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country's institutions of higher learning."


Those in favor.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Justice Stephen Breyer

Justice Sonia Sotomayor



Justice John Paul Stevens

Justice Anthony Kennedy


Those in dissent.

Justice Samuel Alito

Chief Justice John Roberts

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Clarence Thomas

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