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Jewish University Denied Right to Reject LGBTQ Club

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a Jewish university in New York City, Yeshiva University, the right to block an LGBTQ student club from forming on their campus. In a 5-4 vote, the Court told the university to send the case back to the New York state Supreme Court.

Due to the denial from the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the June ruling of the New York Supreme Court, Yeshiva will be forced to recognize an LGBTQ club for the 2022-2023 school year. The U.S. Supreme Court told the university to request an expedited consideration from the New York courts. If an expedited consideration is not given, the university may return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The year-long lawsuit was filed by Yeshiva University students and alumni claiming the denial of their club “deprives them of benefits enjoyed by other recognized student organizations, like the use of campus facilities for meetings, fundraisers and advertising,” The Hill reported.

Their argument was based on the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.

Yeshiva has already lost one court battle with the New York County Supreme Court in June; the judges said the university was not documented as a religious organization.

“Yeshiva’s organizing documents do not expressly indicate that Yeshiva has a religious purpose,” the court wrote. “Rather, Yeshiva organized itself as an ‘education corporation’ and for educational purposes, exclusively.”

Eric Baxter, the vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Yeshiva, released a statement on Monday addressing the Supreme Court.

“When secular authorities try to tell Yeshiva University that it is not religious, you know something has gone terribly wrong,” Baxter said. “The First Amendment protects Yeshiva’s right to practice its faith. We are asking the Supreme Court to correct this obvious error.”

Ari Berman, the president of Yeshiva also released a statement on Monday asking the government for freedom

“We care deeply for and welcome all our students, including our LGBTQ students, and continue to be engaged in a productive dialogue with our Rabbis, faculty and students on how we apply our Torah values to create an inclusive campus environment,” Berman said. “We only ask the government to allow us the freedom to apply the Torah in accordance with our values.”

Marc Stern, the chief legal counsel for the American Jewish Committee, said because of the four justices siding with the university the case “almost guarantees a review by the Supreme Court if they lose in the New York courts.”

Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas voted in favor of Yeshiva and released this statement:

"Does the First Amendment permit a State to force a Jewish school to instruct its students in accordance with an interpretation of Torah that the school, after careful study, has concluded is incorrect? The answer to that question is surely “no.”

The First Amendment guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion, and if that provision means anything, it prohibits a State from enforcing its own preferred interpretation of Holy Scripture. Yet that is exactly what New York has done in this case, and it is disappointing that a majority of this Court refuses to provide relief. …

It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial."

Mark Rienzi, the Becket Fund president, also addressed the constitutional concerns revolving around the case.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher, not just for Yeshiva but for the country,” Rienzi said. “That’s why people of many different faiths filed briefs asking the court to protect Yeshiva. If Yeshiva can’t even make religious decisions on its own campus, then no religious group is safe from government control.”

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