Religious University Appeals Court Ruling Forcing It To Acknowledge LGBTQ Club

The debate over whether religious schools should be compelled to accommodate clubs and organizations that violate core religious principles has now made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to recent reports, Yeshiva University in New York is appealing a state Supreme Court’s ruling that it must recognize an LGBTQ student club that administrators say is not compatible with the school’s Orthodox Jewish charter.

The college is taking its appeal to the nation’s highest court in hopes of receiving a stay on the lower court’s ruling.

Although the appeal notes that religious teachings call for “accepting each individual with love,” the Torah also mandates “affirming its timeless prescriptions.”

As such, the university contends that it is unable to attach its “name or seal of approval” to any group that runs contrary to its values. The appeal notes that Yeshiva University has likewise turned down applications for “proposed student clubs involving shooting, videogames, and gambling” on similar grounds.

While opponents insist that the university is violating the New York City Human Rights Law by denying its recognition of the group, lawyers for the school are claiming an exemption as a “religious corporation incorporated under the education law.”

State Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler shot down the university’s assertion, pointing to the “many secular multi-disciplinary degrees” that Yeshiva offers as evidence that it is primarily an educational corporation, not a religious one.

Attorney Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty argued in the emergency U.S. Supreme Court appeal that the state court dismissed the university’s constitutional claim, writing that “when the secular authorities of New York purport to overrule the religious authorities at Yeshiva — and when the civil courts insist the First Amendment has nothing to say about the matter — something has gone terribly wrong.”

He went on to conclude that the high court’s “intervention is urgently needed to preserve the status quo and protect Applicants’ religious character, at least until such time as the Court can consider the case on its merits.”

The application will be initially considered by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose jurisdiction includes federal courts in the Second Circuit. She will have the option of either handing down a unilateral ruling or presenting the appeal to the full court for consideration.

If the matter reaches the full court, it could find a receptive audience among the conservative majority, which has previously sided with religious educational institutions.