Supreme Court Rules Yeshiva University Must Host LBGT Group, For Now
The Supreme Court on Wednesday voted 5-4 for Yeshiva University in New York to recognize an LGBT student organization, YU Pride Alliance, as it appeals a state court judge’s ruling in the right order. Judge Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the state court order last week, giving the entire Supreme Court a chance to intervene. Wednesday’s decision lifted that reprieve.
The unsigned majority opinion did not weigh in on the merits of the case, but said the Yeshiva, a Modern Orthodox university, has “at least two other avenues for obtaining expedited or interim relief from the courts of ‘State’, and if she “requests and does not receive expedited review or interim relief from the courts of New York, they may return to this court.” The order reflected the views of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
New York State Trial Judge, Judge Lynn Kotler, had sided with the Pride Alliance, ruling that since Yeshiva University was incorporated as an educational institution and not a religious , she had to abide by the New York City Human Rights Non-Discrimination Act. Yeshiva argued in its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court that, “as a deeply religious Jewish university,” it has a First Amendment right to preserve “its sincere religious beliefs about how to educate its students in first cycle to the values of the Torah”.
The student group countered that Kotler’s decision “does not affect the university’s well-established right to express to all students its sincere beliefs about Torah values and sexual orientation,” but rather guarantees that all students have “access to the non-religious resources it offers to the entire student community.” Yeshiva University does not require its staff or faculty to be Jewish and enrolls students of all religions, The Washington Post Remarks.
“This whole matter is about,” the students told the Supreme Court, “is whether YU should allow the student club access to campus classrooms for meetings or message boards.”
Judge Samuel Alito disagreed, writing in his dissent that if the First Amendment means anything, “it prohibits a state from enforcing its own preferred interpretation of Holy Scripture,” adding that “imposition by a State of its own binding interpretation of Scripture is a shocking development that calls for reconsideration” and lamenting that “the majority of this court refuses to grant relief”. His dissent was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.