The Fallout from Christian Legal Society

Since the Supreme Court’s sharply divided and startlingly wrongheaded decision two years ago in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, those concerned about religious liberty on campus have known that the fallout was on its way. At Vanderbilt University, it has arrived — and it’s as bad as anticipated.

In Martinez, the Court determined that public institutions like the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law could require all student groups — even those based on shared belief, such as religious and political organizations — to admit members and even leaders without regard to their beliefs. Groups like the Christian Legal Society (CLS), whose constitution required students to have traditional Christian beliefs (such as in Christ’s bodily resurrection) and morals (no sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage), could be required to remove those provisions from their constitutions and admit “all comers,” or else face “derecognition” and the corresponding loss of access to meeting space and other benefits that all other groups enjoyed. To lack recognition is basically not to exist at all on today’s college campus.

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