Christian Group Ruling Threat to Free Expression?

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On Monday, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that a California law school can refuse to recognize a Christian student group that bars membership to homosexuals. But some legal experts are questioning the wisdom of that decision.

Some critics have suggested the high court's narrow ruling poses a significant threat to the freedom of expression.

A Setback for Religious Freedom?

The policy that the court upheld to be constitutional is so rare that it's unlikely to have much national impact.

The Hastings College of Law at the University of California requires every student group give up the right to associate around shared beliefs.

For the school's Christian Legal Society, that meant it could not force members to abide by its statement of belief.

"If you want state funding, public funding, and you want to use the Hastings name, then you have to abide by the Hastings policy," said Leo Martinez, acting chancellor and dean of the Hastings College of Law.

But has the freedom of expression really been affected by the high court ruling?

"The court said, if the university wants to prohibit religious student groups from associating around shared views it can only do that if it will eliminate that right of expressive association for every student group on campus," said Casey Mattox, the Christian Legal Society's defense attorney.

Nearly a hundred parties filed friend-of-the court briefs supporting the Christian Legal Society. Even the group Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty supported the Christian legal group's efforts against the rule.

"I think they recognized that which was our point, which is that this right of expressive association is not a right that's a conservative right or a religious right," Mattox told CBN News. "This is a right that belongs to everyone."

The court's decision does not address the typical non-discrimination policies found on most college campuses.

The Christian Legal Society said it hopes the court will eventually determine that applying those policies to religious student groups is unconstitutional.

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Heather Sells

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