Supreme Court Denies Yeshiva University’s Request In LGBTQ Student Group Dispute

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The Supreme Court declined in a 5-4 decision Wednesday to overturn a lower court ruling requiring a private Orthodox Jewish research university to recognize an LGBTQ group, sending the case back to the lower courts.

The Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University (YU) must comply with a lower court ruling which directed the school to recognize the “YU Pride Alliance” as a student club. The club applied to be officially recognized in order to “make a statement” and promote “cultural changes” to the campus, which the school’s administrative executives ruled would be inconsistent with the teachings of the Torah, according to the Supreme Court’s official document regarding the case.

The club, also known as simply the Alliance, sued the university, arguing YU’s decision violated the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHL), which forbids discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. The lower court ruled in favor of the Alliance, according to the document.

Yeshiva University appealed the ruling in the Court of Appeals by requesting a “stay pending appeal,” but the court refused to overturn the decision. The case then went to the Supreme Court, in which the university sued on the basis of their First Amendment rights, according to the document.

The majority directed the case back to the lower courts, the dissenting opinion said. The case is therefore not officially closed and allows for the university to return to the Supreme Court after the lower courts have settled on the matter. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary stay of the lower court order last week in order for the court to extend their time in deciding further action. (RELATED: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments On Religious Discrimination Regarding School Choice) 

Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch dissented in the case. The dissenting opinion, written by Alito, argued that the First Amendment prohibits the State from enforcing their own interpretation of the Holy Scripture on a private institution.

“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,'” Alito wrote. “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.”

Alito argued the university will “suffer irreparable harm” and “would likely prevail if review is granted” by the decision, the dissenting opinion read.

“A State’s imposition of its own mandatory interpretation of scripture is a shocking development that calls out for review. The Free Exercise Clause protects the ability of religious schools to educate in accordance with their faith,” Alito added.

The members of the LGBTQ club would not be prevented from conducting activities and gathering collectively without official recognition, Alito argued.

He said the Supreme Court should not wait for a lower court’s decision when a case visibly violates the Constitution.

“Moreover, it is far from clear that our authority to issue a stay of a state court order that violates the Constitution is limited to situations in which a final order has been entered below,” Alito argued. “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. It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.”