The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that provincial law societies can refuse to accredit graduates from schools that ban sex that does not occur in a heterosexual marriage, a Sunday report revealed.
A 7-2 vote validated the decisions made by Ontario and British Columbia law societies to deny licenses to graduates of Christian liberal arts school Trinity Western University, according to The Globe and Mail.
“Limiting access to membership in the legal profession on the basis of personal characteristics, unrelated to merit, is inherently inimical to the integrity of the legal profession,” the majority opinion, written by five judges, stated.
The school indicated it would reconsider its “community covenant,” forbidding sex outside of heterosexual marriage. (RELATED: Canadians Could Face Hate Crimes Over Using The Wrong Gender Pronouns)
“We will review the community covenant, I’m sure,” Trinity Western University’s potential law school executive director Earl Phillips said to The Globe and Mail. “This really means that diversity in Canada doesn’t have room for a small, free-standing university with Christian principles to operate a law school.”
Phillips is not yet the executive director of the law school because British Columbia’s Ministry of Advanced Education withdrew its preliminary approval of the law school’s creation. Lower courts had previously split their verdicts regarding the school’s ability to institute its “community covenant.” Ontario’s top court decided against Trinity Western, but the British Columbia appeal court sided with the school, citing religious freedom.
The five judges who authored the Supreme Court’s majority opinion did not believe their ruling would significantly impair the school’s religious freedom because Trinity Western did not frame the covenant as imperative to the students’ exercise of religion.
A sixth judge, who also voted with the majority, noted that non-Christian students could attend the school and reasoned that the covenant would adversely impact them and that the case therefore did not pertain to religious freedom.
“The unequal access resulting from the Covenant is a function of accommodating religious freedom, which itself advances the public interest by promoting diversity in a liberal, pluralist society,” wrote the two dissenting judges. They argued the law societies could only approve or deny Trinity Western’s law school based on its performance.
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