Supreme Court allows Yeshiva University to reject LGBTQ student group

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s order suggests High Court may hear religious freedom case.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked a lower court’s order that would have forced Yeshiva University to grant official recognition to a student LGBTQ group.

The order, signed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, temporarily freezes a New York Appeals Court ruling “pending further order,” suggesting that the Supreme Court may hear the case.

University officials had filed an emergency appeal with the High Court after Manhattan-based Judge Lynn Kotler ruled in June that the administration must grant the same recognition to the “YU Pride Alliance” as other other student groups.

YU maintains that recognizing the Pride Alliance violates its religious beliefs while the student group accuses the administration of discrimination.

The university argues that its nonsectarian status – vital to receiving government funding – was solely determined by its admissions procedure, which does not discriminate between students based on faith, color, or sex.

While a large majority of its students is Jewish, it is not a requirement and non-Jewish students do attend the school. More than 6,000 students are enrolled in classes at YU’s four campuses across New York City.

However, although not a “religious corporation,” the university showed numerous examples of how it has always operated as a religious entity “guided by Halacha [Jewish law] and Torah values.” These guidelines should allow it to be exempt from the law based on the Constitutionally-enshrined right to religious freedom, it told the court.

The Supreme Court has shifted its stance on religious freedom in recent months.

In June, justices struck down a Maine law that prevented state funds from going to religious schools.

In other cases this year, the High Court ruled that a high school football coach had the constitutional right to pray at midfield following games and that a pastor could “lay hands” on a condemned prisoner in the final moments before his execution.