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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 23, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 12
Christian groups can't discriminate, Supreme Court says
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Christian groups can't discriminate, Supreme Court says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider a request by Christian groups at San Diego State University to allow them to limit membership based on religious beliefs.

The March 20 announcement means that a previous federal appeals court ruling in Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter v. Reed will stand.

The case involves a Christian fraternity and sorority at San Diego State University that challenged an anti-discrimination policy at California state universities because they wished to limit membership to narrowly defined 'Christians.'

The Alpha Gamma Omega-Epsilon Chapter fraternity and the Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter sorority originally brought their suit in 2005.

Susan Westover, head of the California State University system's litigation unit, welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

'We don't want our students to discriminate, just like we don't want our employees to discriminate,' she said.

Several nondiscriminatory religious groups recognized by San Diego State also welcomed the Supreme Court's decision.

'I think it's a great policy. I don't think there should be any discrimination at all, in any way,' said Curtis Lester, 22, a fifth-year student and president of the Aztec Christian Association.

Jayson Nicholson, assistant for the Agape House Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Diego State, enthusiastically backs the school policy.

'I personally feel it is positive not to discriminate in any way, shape, or form,' he said.

David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which argued the case for the Christian groups, said San Diego State will 'remain a stronghold of censorship' as a result of the court decision.

The decision not to hear the San Diego case means the Supreme Court will not revisit their 2010 decision that a California law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group that bars Gays.

In that case, a 5-4 decision upheld lower court rulings that a Christian group's First Amendment rights of association, free speech, and free exercise were not violated by a college's nondiscrimination policy.

The ideologically split court ruled then that the University of California's Hastings College of the Law could refuse to recognize campus groups that excluded people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.

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