Saturday, December 3, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Supreme Court allows university snub of LGBTQ club, for now 

In a temporary win for the university, the high court will allow an appeal to proceed before an LGBTQ club can be recognized.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court will allow an Orthodox Jewish university to skirt a lower court order requiring its recognition of an LGBTQ club on campus. 

The Friday evening order came from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who received the emergency application from the school. Coming to the high court prior to a New York appeals court ruling on the merits of the case, the order will temporarily allow the school to hold off on recognizing the club until the appeal proceeds. 

Yeshiva University was originally founded to prepare students for the Hebrew Orthodox ministry but has since added secular degrees. Over 5,000 students of all religious backgrounds now attend the New York City university every year. 

Students at Yeshiva formed YU Pride Alliance in 2018 to provide a support group for LGBTQ students. The club has been denied official recognition by the university for years because of its mission. This has resulted in the club being unable to hold meetings on campus, access university funding available to other student groups, publicize events on school bulletin boards or participate in student club fairs. 

Several students from the club filed a suit against Yeshiva earlier this year claiming the school violated the New York City Human Rights Law by discriminating against the sexual orientation and gender of club members. Yeshiva claims it is a religious corporation and therefore exempt from New York’s law. 

A state trial court shot down Yeshiva’s claim that it was exempt from the public accommodation law. Finding that the university should not be considered a religious corporation under New York’s law, the judge granted summary judgment to the students. 

The court ordered the university to immediately recognize YU Pride Alliance. The school requested a stay that was denied. 

In a last-ditch effort, Yeshiva asked the nation's highest court to halt the school’s recognition of the club while its appeal moves forward. The university argued the stay was warranted because its First Amendment rights had been violated. 

​​“Here, a New York state court told a deeply religious Jewish university how it must resolve a plainly religious question: whether recognizing a Pride Alliance student club is consistent with Yeshiva’s sincere religious beliefs and Torah values,” Eric Baxter, an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, wrote in the school’s application before the court. 

The students, however, claimed the university has not been halted in expressing its religious beliefs. 

“This ruling does not touch the University’s well-established right to express to all students its sincerely held beliefs about Torah values and sexual orientation,” Debra Greenberger, an attorney with Ward & Maazel representing the students, wrote in a response brief. “Pending appeal, the University and its counsel can continue to explain, as they have this week in press releases, online ‘FAQs’ about this case, and television interviews, that it is required to provide the student club with access to a classroom, bulletin board, or club fair booth as one step in a legal process, not because it endorses the club’s mission of support and acceptance for LGBTQ students.” 

The Supreme Court's single-page stay order doesn't offer any explanation for the decision.

Oral arguments at the state appeals court are scheduled to take place this fall. 

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...