Michael McConnell, along with the attorneys from the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund, filed last Thursday at the United States Supreme Court their opening brief in the case of CLS v. Martinez. This brief explains how the University of California-Hastings has violates the student’ rights to form their own private group to advocate its Christian ideas on campus, as well as set standards so that people conduct their lives in accordance with their Christian beliefs. Those interested in a deeper understanding of the legal issues in this case will find this well-written brief easy to follow and understand. Some of the phrasing in it is just downright elegant.
The last page of the brief places the case in a larger context, showing how the Supreme Court might inflame the “culture war” if it rejects the claims of freedom of speech and association made by CLS in this case:
Under a proper understanding of the First Amendment, this case is most emphatically not a clash between religious freedom and rights pertaining to sexual orientation. Religious groups and gay rights groups share common ground in the need for freedom of association. Both are vulnerable (in different parts of the country) to the hostile reactions of university administrators and fellow students. Both can pursue their objectives best if free to decide for themselves who will lead and speak for them.
On the other hand, if Respondents [UC-Hasings Law School] were to prevail in this case, it would provoke a collusion between religious freedom and rights of sexual orientation. That would mean, in essence, that when sexual orientation is added to the list of forbidden grounds under non-discrimination laws, religious and other groups that adhere to traditional moral views could be driven from the public square in the name of enforcing non-discrimination. Thsi would raise the stakes in the political battles over sexual orientation discrimination to a dangerous extent. It would be far better to adhere to the framers’ wisdom of “live and let live” under the First Amendment than to treat religious and sexual orientation discrimination laws as a rationale for ostracizing dissenters. (Petioners’ Brief at 58).
The friend of the court briefs in favor of CLS will be filed with the Supreme Court on Thursday, February 4. UC-Hastings will have about a month then to file its merits brief in the case. Stay tuned.