The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court’s ruling that San Diego State University can deny funding and recognition to student groups that discriminate on the basis of religion and sexual orientation.
The court Monday declined to hear an appeal from Alpha Delta Chi sorority and Alpha Gamma Omega fraternity, which require members to be Christians and to refrain from sex outside marriage, including same-sex relationships, the Associated Press reports. They sued the university in 2005, and a federal appeals court ruled last year that the public university’s denial of funding and other benefits to the groups did not violate the U.S. Constitution.
In that decision, from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Harry Pregerson wrote that the groups are free to set whatever membership restrictions they desire but “cannot oblige the university to subsidize them,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal organization representing the fraternity and sorority in their suit, objected to the Supreme Court’s decision to leave the appeals court ruling in place. “The university did not tell the Democratic club it must be led by a Republican, or the vegetarian club it must be led by a meat-eater, but it did tell Christian groups that they must allow themselves to be led by atheists,” Alliance Defense Fund lawyer David Cortman told the Chronicle. He added, “The supposed marketplace of ideas at San Diego State University will remain a stronghold for censorship.”
An American Civil Liberties Union lawyer countered that no one is censoring the Christian organizations or banning them from the university. “They’re perfectly free to express their views and associate” on campus, David Blair-Loy told the Chronicle. “They just don’t have the right to get government money to do it.”
According to the AP, more liberal Christian groups approved of the case’s outcome. “I personally feel it is positive not to discriminate in any way, shape, or form,” said Jayson Nicholson, assistant for the Agape House Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Diego State.