Christian Legal Soc'y Chapter of the Univ. of Cal. v. Martinez, No. 08–1371.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation130 S.Ct. 2971,561 U.S. 661,177 L.Ed.2d 838
PartiesCHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY CHAPTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW, aka HASTINGS CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP v. Leo P. MARTINEZ et al.
Docket NumberNo. 08–1371.
Decision Date28 June 2010

561 U.S. 661
130 S.Ct.
2971
177 L.Ed.2d 838

CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY CHAPTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW, aka HASTINGS CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
v.
Leo P. MARTINEZ et al.

No. 08–1371.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued April 19, 2010.
Decided June 28, 2010.


Michael W. McConnell, Stanford, CA, for petitioner.

Gregory G. Garre, Washington, DC, for respondents.

Kimberlee Wood Colby, Christian Legal Society, Springfield, VA, Gregory S. Baylor, Timothy J. Tracey, M. Casey Mattox, Alliance Defense Fund, Washington, DC, Michael W. McConnell, Stanford, CA, for Petitioner.

130 S.Ct. 2978

Ethan P. Schulman, Crowell & Moring LLP, Elise K. Traynum, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA, Gregory G. Garre, Maureen E. Mahoney, J. Scott Ballenger, Lori Alvino McGill, Gabriel K. Bell Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, DC, for Hastings College of the Law Respondents.

Shannon P. Minter, Christopher F. Stoll, San Francisco, CA, Paul M. Smith, Duane C. Pozza, Daniel I. Weiner, Anna M. Baldwin, Jennifer V. Yeh, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, DC, for Respondent–Intervenor.

Opinion

Justice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.

561 U.S. 667

In a series of decisions, this Court has emphasized that the First Amendment generally precludes public universities

561 U.S. 668

from denying student organizations access to school-sponsored forums because of the groups' viewpoints. See Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, 115 S.Ct. 2510, 132 L.Ed.2d 700 (1995); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 102 S.Ct. 269, 70 L.Ed.2d 440 (1981); Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 92 S.Ct. 2338, 33 L.Ed.2d 266 (1972). This case concerns a novel question regarding student activities at public universities: May a public law school condition its official recognition of a student group—and the attendant use of school funds and facilities—on the organization's agreement to open eligibility for membership and leadership to all students?

In the view of petitioner Christian Legal Society (CLS), an accept-all-comers policy impairs its First Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion by prompting it, on pain of relinquishing the advantages of recognition, to accept members who do not share the organization's core beliefs about religion and sexual orientation. From the perspective of respondent Hastings College of the Law (Hastings or the Law School), CLS seeks special dispensation from an across-the-board open-access requirement designed to further the reasonable educational purposes underpinning the school's student-organization program.

561 U.S. 669

In accord with the District Court and the Court of Appeals, we reject CLS's First Amendment challenge. Compliance with Hastings' all-comers policy, we conclude, is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum. In requiring CLS—in common with all other student organizations—to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings did not transgress constitutional limitations. CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings' policy. The First Amendment shields CLS against state prohibition of the organization's expressive activity, however exclusionary that activity may be. But CLS enjoys no constitutional right to state subvention of its selectivity.

I

Founded in 1878, Hastings was the first law school in the University of California public-school system. Like many institutions of higher education, Hastings encourages students to form extracurricular associations that “contribute to the Hastings community and experience.” App. 349. These groups offer students “opportunities to pursue academic and social interests outside of the classroom [to] further their

130 S.Ct. 2979

education” and to help them “develo[p] leadership skills.” Ibid.

Through its “Registered Student Organization” (RSO) program, Hastings extends official recognition to student groups. Several benefits attend this school-approved status. RSOs are eligible to seek financial assistance from the Law School, which subsidizes their events using funds from a mandatory student-activity fee imposed on all students. Id., at 217. RSOs may also use Law–School channels to communicate with students: They may place announcements in a weekly Office–of–Student–Services newsletter, advertise events on designated bulletin boards, send e-mails using a Hastings-organization address, and participate in an annual

561 U.S. 670

Student Organizations Fair designed to advance recruitment efforts. Id., at 216–219. In addition, RSOs may apply for permission to use the Law School's facilities for meetings and office space. Id., at 218–219. Finally, Hastings allows officially recognized groups to use its name and logo. Id., at 216.

In exchange for these benefits, RSOs must abide by certain conditions. Only a “non-commercial organization whose membership is limited to Hastings students may become [an RSO].” App. to Pet. for Cert. 83a. A prospective RSO must submit its bylaws to Hastings for approval, id., at 83a–84a; and if it intends to use the Law School's name or logo, it must sign a license agreement, App. 219. Critical here, all RSOs must undertake to comply with Hastings' “Policies and Regulations Applying to College Activities, Organizations and Students.” Ibid.1

The Law School's Policy on Nondiscrimination (Nondiscrimination Policy), which binds RSOs, states:

“[Hastings] is committed to a policy against legally impermissible, arbitrary or unreasonable discriminatory practices. All groups, including administration, faculty, student governments, [Hastings]-owned student residence facilities and programs sponsored by [Hastings], are governed by this policy of nondiscrimination. [Hasting's] policy on nondiscrimination is to comply fully with applicable law.
“[Hastings] shall not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access and treatment in Hastings-sponsored programs and activities.” Id., at 220.
561 U.S. 671

Hastings interprets the Nondiscrimination Policy, as it relates to the RSO program, to mandate acceptance of all comers: School-approved groups must “allow any student to participate, become a member, or seek leadership positions in the organization, regardless of [her] status or beliefs.” Id., at 221.2 Other law schools

130 S.Ct. 2980

have adopted similar all-comers policies. See, e.g., Georgetown University Law Center, Office of Student Life: Student Organizations, available at http://www.law.georgetown.edu/ StudentLife/StudentOrgs/NewGroup.htm (All Internet materials as visited June 24, 2010, and included in Clerk of Court's case file) (Membership in registered groups must be “open to all students.”); Hofstra Law School Student Handbook 2009–2010, p. 49, available at http:// law.hofstra.edu/pdf/StudentLife/StudentAffairs/Handbook/ stuhb_handbook.pdf (“[Student] organizations are open to all students.”). From Hastings' adoption of its Nondiscrimination Policy in 1990 until the events stirring

561 U.S. 672

this litigation, “no student organization at Hastings ... ever sought an exemption from the Policy.” App. 221.

In 2004, CLS became the first student group to do so. At the beginning of the academic year, the leaders of a predecessor Christian organization—which had been an RSO at Hastings for a decade—formed CLS by affiliating with the national Christian Legal Society (CLS–National). Id., at 222–223, 225. CLS–National, an association of Christian lawyers and law students, charters student chapters at law schools throughout the country. Id., at 225. CLS chapters must adopt bylaws that, inter alia, require members and officers to sign a “Statement of Faith” and to conduct their lives in accord with prescribed principles. Id., at 225–226; App. to Pet. for Cert. 101a.3 Among those tenets is the belief that sexual activity should not occur outside of marriage between a man and a woman; CLS thus interprets its bylaws to exclude from affiliation anyone who engages in “unrepentant homosexual conduct.” App. 226. CLS also excludes students who hold religious convictions different from those in the Statement of Faith. Id., at 227.

On September 17, 2004, CLS submitted to Hastings an application for RSO status, accompanied by all required documents, including the set of bylaws mandated by CLS–National. Id., at 227–228. Several days later, the Law School rejected the application; CLS's bylaws, Hastings explained, did not comply with the Nondiscrimination Policy

561 U.S. 673

because CLS barred...

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375 practice notes
  • Karnoski v. Trump, No. 18-35347
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 14, 2019
    ...closely correlated with being transgender. See Christian Legal Soc’y Chapter of the Univ. of Cal., Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 689, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (citing Lawrence , 539 U.S. at 583, 123 S.Ct. 2472 (O’Connor, J., concurring) ("While it is tr......
  • Gerlich v. Leath, No. 16-1518
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 13, 2017
    ...solely to the discussion of certain subjects." Christian Legal Soc. Chapter of the Univ. of Cal., Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 679 n.11, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A university's student activity fund is a......
  • B&L Prods., Inc. v. 22ND Dist. Agric. Ass'n, Case No.: 3:19-CV-134-CAB-NLS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 25, 2019
    ...(internal citations omitted); see also Christian Legal Soc. Chapter of the Univ. of California, Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 679, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (holding that any restrictions based on the limited or nonpublic nature of the forum are subject ......
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger, No. C 09-2292 VRW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • August 4, 2010
    ...someone gay or lesbian. Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 579, 123 S.Ct. 2472; FF 42-43; see also Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. ----, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 2990, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (“Our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in [the context of sexual orientation].”) (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
369 cases
  • Karnoski v. Trump, No. 18-35347
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 14, 2019
    ...closely correlated with being transgender. See Christian Legal Soc’y Chapter of the Univ. of Cal., Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 689, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (citing Lawrence , 539 U.S. at 583, 123 S.Ct. 2472 (O’Connor, J., concurring) ("While it is tr......
  • Gerlich v. Leath, No. 16-1518
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 13, 2017
    ...solely to the discussion of certain subjects." Christian Legal Soc. Chapter of the Univ. of Cal., Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 679 n.11, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A university's student activity fund is a......
  • B&L Prods., Inc. v. 22ND Dist. Agric. Ass'n, Case No.: 3:19-CV-134-CAB-NLS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 25, 2019
    ...(internal citations omitted); see also Christian Legal Soc. Chapter of the Univ. of California, Hastings Coll. of the Law v. Martinez , 561 U.S. 661, 679, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (2010) (holding that any restrictions based on the limited or nonpublic nature of the forum are subject ......
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger, No. C 09-2292 VRW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • August 4, 2010
    ...someone gay or lesbian. Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 579, 123 S.Ct. 2472; FF 42-43; see also Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. ----, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 2990, 177 L.Ed.2d 838 (“Our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in [the context of sexual orientation].”) (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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