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Case studies

(Education, 2009)
In Truth v. Kent School District, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Washington's Kentridge High School did not violate the First Amendment rights of Truth, a Christian student group, by repeatedly denying the group's applications for official recognition. The school denied Truth's application because the group asked all voting members and officers to sign a "statement of faith" that the school contends violates nondiscrimination policies. By finding that the school had not violated Truth's First Amendment right to freedom of association, the Ninth Circuit directly contradicted Supreme Court precedent granting groups the right to choose their membership based on shared beliefs. The Ninth Circuit's holding in Truth directly conflicts with Legal Society v. Walker, in which the Seventh Circuit found that a public law school's refusal to recognize a Christian student group because of the group's membership requirements violated the group's First Amendment right to freedom of expressive association. FIRE's brief asks the Supreme Court to reconcile this split between the circuits.
Boy Scouts held that the Scouts could exclude scoutmasters who were openly engaged in homosexual behavior and Rosenberger held that religious student organizations were entitled to viewpoint-neutral access to student-fee funds. Seemingly however, they rest on a backdrop of other cases, most importantly Healy v. James which reversed a university's decision to deny recognition to Students for a Democratic Society) and Widmar v. Vincent which held that universities had to provide religious student organizations with equal access to university benefits. The Healy court held that there was a free-association interest in student-organization recognition: "There can be no doubt that denial of official recognition, without justification, to college organizations burdens or abridges that associational right." On a university campus, recognition goes hand in hand with existence. If you are not recognized by the university, you have guaranteed marginalization. There is a tremendous qualifier with respect to on campus and off campus activities. The Supreme Court has clearly established the following: "Student organizations have a free-association right in recognition; religious student organizations have a right to access university facilities; and religious student organizations have a right to access student-activity-fee funds." (French, 2009)
The problem exists, with respect to the qualifier and the question remains as to whether the qualifier comes first or whether the constitutional right takes precedence.
B. Problem 16*
Midstate University is a large state university. In the last few years, several student organizations have been established at the university that focus, in whole or in part, on religious values, religious worship, and religious evangelism. The New Light Fellowship, a student group affiliated with an outside religious organization, has been active on campus for two years. It is recognized by the Student Government Association, and thus receives funding from mandatory student fees and is allowed to hold ...Show more

Summary

Christian Legal Society v. Walker had effects on several aspects of Constitutional law. As the readings in the CPM manual indicate, a single claim gives pause for a riptide of issues. Indeed, very recently, Christian Legal Society finds itself crossing swords with a recent filing and the issue being litigated is the right to freedom of association…
Author : fdouglas
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