LGBTQ Students in Civil Rights Case Against Religious University Chalk Up Win at Supreme Court – for Now – Rights History
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LGBTQ Students in Civil Rights Case Against Religious University Chalk Up Win at Supreme Court – for Now

In a 5-4 decision Wednesday evening the U.S. Supreme Court opted to not block a state court’s ruling ordering a faith-based private university to recognize an LGBTQ students’ organization, but the order is quite likely temporary.

Yeshiva University, which has four campuses in New York City, was ordered by a state court to recognize Y.U. Pride Alliance, citing New York State anti-discrimination law.

Over the weekend Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the 2nd Circuit including courts in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, blocked the state court’s ruling in what some call an administrative order. She did not refer the case to the full Court.

Wednesday evening, Justice Sotomayor, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson voted to allow the lower court’s ruling to go into effect. That ruling requires Yeshiva University to recognize the LGBTQ students’ organization.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented, with Justice Alito speaking the loudest.

“I doubt that Yeshiva’s return to state court will be fruitful, and I see no reason why we should not grant a stay at this time,” Alito wrote, according to the L.A. Times. “It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial.”

But legal experts disagreed with Alito, as did obviously the court’s more liberal justices, if not only on the merits, at least on the procedural aspects.

Some were aghast at Yeshiva’s aggressive process, making a bee line for the Supreme Court before having exhausted all remedies in the lower courts – something that was expected practice until what some say this activist court has not only allowed but invited.

“Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh join the three more liberal Justices in 5-4 ruling rejecting Yeshiva’s application to block a state trial court order — noting that Yeshiva still has the ability to pursue similar relief in the New York state courts,” Law professor Steve Vladeck noted.

Vladeck is also the author o9f the upcoming book, “The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.”

Y.U. Pride Alliance attorney Katie Rosenfeld called the decision a “victory for Yeshiva University students who are simply seeking basic rights that are uncontested at peer universities,” Reuters reports. “At the end of the day, Yeshiva University students will have a club for peer support this year, and the sky is not going to fall down.”

But before LGBTQ and civil rights supporters start celebrating, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, agreeing with conservative writer David French, says, “Roberts and Kavanaugh will ultimately side with Yeshiva, but they refused to reward the school’s abuse of the shadow docket to hop over state courts.”

The far right legal group Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Yeshiva.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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