On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor allowed Yeshiva University to refuse to recognize an LGBT student club that the Jewish School of New York says violates its religious values, temporarily blocking the decision of a judge ordering him to authorize the group. Sotomayor suspended a judge’s ruling that a city anti-discrimination law required Yeshiva University to recognize YU Pride Alliance as a student club while the school pursues an appeal in lower court. Liberal justice handles certain cases on behalf of a group of states including New York. A Sotomayor stay issued from the judge’s injunction will remain in place pending a further Supreme Court order.
YU Pride Alliance formed informally as a group in 2018, but Yeshiva University determined that granting it official status would be “inconsistent with the school’s Torah values and the religious environment it seeks. to maintain”. The dispute centers in part on whether Yeshiva University is a “religious society” and therefore exempt from New York City’s human rights law, which prohibits discrimination by location or age. public housing provider.
New York State Judge Lynn Kotler ruled in June that the school’s primary purpose was education, not religious worship, and that it was subject to anti-discrimination law. Kotler also rejected the university’s argument that forcing him to recognize the club would violate his religious freedom protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. After senior state courts in August refused to stay the judge’s decision, Yeshiva University turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, pointing to its religious character, including that undergraduates are required to engage in intense religious studies.
“As a deeply religious Jewish university, the Yeshiva cannot comply with this order as it would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to train its undergraduate students in Torah values,” the school told Reuters. the Supreme Court. The Modern Orthodox Jewish University, based in Manhattan, has about 6,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Among the school’s values, according to its website https://www.yu.edu/about/values, is a belief in “the infinite worth of every human being” and “the responsibility to reach out to others with compassion”.
Pushed by its increasingly assertive conservative justices, the US Supreme Court in recent years has expanded religious rights while narrowing the separation between church and state. During his tenure that ended in June, the court backed a Washington state public high school football coach who refused to stop leading Christian prayers with players on the field after the matches and ruled in favor of Christian families in Maine who sought to access taxpayer money to pay for their children to attend religious schools. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.
During its next term, which begins Oct. 3, the court will decide a major new legal battle pitting religious freedom against LGBT rights involving an evangelical Christian web designer’s free speech claim. which she cannot be forced under a Colorado anti-discrimination law to produce gay marriage websites.
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