The Center for Law & Religious Freedom



April 13, 2005 - Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - U.S. District Court Judge Jeffery S. White ruled yesterday both in favor and against the Christian Legal Society chapter at the University of California - Hastings College of Law in a lawsuit over the school's nondiscriminiation policy that would have forced the Christian group to accept members and leaders who disagree with it Christian beliefs.

Attorneys representing the University of California – Hastings College of the Law (UC Hastings) filed a motion in December to have the school’s board of directors removed from the lawsuit as well as dismiss three of the six constitutional claims against the college, the student group’s equal protection, Establishment Clause, and due process claims. 

The judge dismissed three of the six claims, the equal protection, Establishment Clause and due process claims, against both the college and its board of directors.  He declined to dismiss the remaining three claims, free speech, free association and free exercise of religion, against the board of directors. 

On April 1, Judge White heard arguments from both sides concerning UC Hastings’ motion to dismiss.   Attorneys from the Center for Law and Religious Freedom argued that the Board should not be removed and had ultimate responsibility for the adoption and enforcement of the school’s nondiscrimination policy.  The Center also maintained that because the school’s nondiscrimination policy targets religious campus groups, the policy violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the CLS chapter and similar religious students groups.

The Center for Law and Religious Freedom, along with the Alliance Defense Fund and local attorneys Timothy Smith and Steven Burlingham, represent the CLS chapter.  The next hearing is scheduled before Judge White on October 7, 2005.

“We are encouraged by Judge White’s decision to keep the Hastings Board of Directors in the case.  It’s important that public university officials be held accountable when they choose to ignore the Constitutional rights of religious groups like the CLS chapter,“ said Center Litigation Counsel Tim Tracey.  “We look forward to the opportunity to show the Court that Hastings’ nondiscrimination policy violates the CLS chapter’s First Amendment right to select leaders and members who support the group’s Christian beliefs.”

The Christian Legal Society, founded in 1961, is the professional membership association of Christian attorneys, judges, law professors, law students, and paralegals, as well as supportive laypeople throughout the United States.