Supreme Court denies Yeshiva University’s injunction request

A sign for the Wilf Campus of Yeshiva University in New York. – Photo: Beyond My Ken, via Wikimedia.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied an emergency request by an Orthodox Jewish university in New York City seeking an injunction allowing it to refuse to deny recognition to a group of LGBTQ students.

In a 5-4 vote, judges denied Yeshiva University’s request for an injunction to block a lower court ruling finding the university violated the Human Rights Act of New York City, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, when it refused to recognize LGBTQ. Pride Alliance as an official campus group.

Yeshiva filed an emergency petition asking the Supreme Court to block the court’s decision, arguing that requiring the school to recognize the group is a “clear violation” of its First Amendment rights. The university claimed the New York state judge failed to consider the university’s religious beliefs, which oppose homosexuality.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor placed a temporary suspension on the state court’s decision, giving the High Court additional time to consider the claim. In Wednesday’s ruling rejecting the emergency request, the court said the Yeshiva may turn to the High Court in the future if it is unable to block the New State Courts decision. York, but decided to let the legal process unfold before intervening, reports BNC News.

Four of the court’s six conservative justices dissented, saying the court should have intervened immediately.

“I doubt Yeshiva’s return to state court will be successful, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t grant a reprieve at this time. It is our duty to uphold the Constitution even when it is controversial,” Judge Samuel Alito wrote.

Yeshiva argued that allowing an official LGBTQ club on campus is inconsistent with the religion’s values. The university also claims that it was founded in 1897 for religious purposes and that these religious values ​​are integral to the character of the university, even though the college’s educational offerings have expanded to include secular programs.

The LGBTQ Pride Alliance first applied for recognition – which would have granted the group access to campus facilities and allowed them to be publicly known on campus, rights currently enjoyed by 87 other clubs and groups – in 2019 , but his request was rejected by the school. In April 2021, the group sued the school, saying they couldn’t deny their request because the university is a public lodging facility, which is covered by the city’s non-discrimination law.

Although the law contains an exemption for religious institutions, Manhattan-based Judge Lynn Kotler found in June that Yeshiva was not considered a “religious society,” noting that the university’s own descriptions of itself—in its charter, public messages, and requests for state funding—affirms that it is an educational institution, thereby subjecting it to human rights law.

Kotler also found that forcing the Yeshiva to recognize the Pride Alliance did not violate the school’s First Amendment rights because “formal recognition of a group of students does not equate to endorsement of the message of a group,” reports the independent Jewish newspaper. Forward.

The LGBTQ Pride Alliance, joined by four individual plaintiffs, had argued in response to Yeshiva’s request for an emergency injunction that the university’s request was premature. He argued that Kotler’s decision did not violate the university’s religious beliefs, noting that an LGBTQ club has existed within the university’s law school for decades and that the student bill of rights of the university asserts that New York’s human rights law fully applies to students.

Members of the LGBTQ Pride Alliance said they plan to hold events supporting LGBTQ rights in the coming weeks, including at times around Jewish holidays, NBC News reports.

The court’s 5-4 ruling is a rare defeat for religious rights, which have been unduly favored by the court’s conservative majority in a host of cases, including several where LGBTQ rights have come into conflict with the rights of people with disabilities. beliefs opposed to homosexuality or even sexual marriage. In 2021, the court sided with a Catholic Church-affiliated agency that had its foster care contract with the city of Philadelphia voided after it refused to place children with same-sex couples.

In 2018, the court ruled in favor of a baker who refused to bake a custom-made wedding cake for a same-sex couple, finding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had failed to consider and express its hostility towards the baker sincerely. held religious beliefs opposed to same-sex marriage.

The high court recently agreed to hear a similar challenge to Colorado’s anti-discrimination law during its next term, which begins in October. In this case, a web designer is asking for a religious exemption from the Non-Discrimination Act that would allow her to refuse to design wedding websites for same-sex marriages and advertise the fact that she doesn’t does not serve same sex couples.

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