September 17, 2010
Professors Brian Landsberg and John Sims discussed the Supreme Court ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez in a Constitution Day program on September 16, 2010, before a large student audience.
By a 5-4 vote in June, the high court determined that UC Hastings College of the Law could refuse to recognize its CLS chapter because the latter violated Hastings policy banning discrimination against gays and lesbians. The ruling received widespread publicity with conservatives labeling it "political correctness gone awry," and liberals hailing "its call for tolerance and inclusiveness."
Though the high-profile case made for big headlines and talk show fodder, Landsberg and Sims agreed that it is not a landmark case. They said the case turned on a joint stipulation that the law school's policy was an "all-comers" policy — that is, recognition was available to any student group at Hastings that allowed any student to take part in that group, including rising to leadership.
"The case left open a number of questions about the rights of student organizations," said Landsberg. "It teaches a lot more about how to litigate a Supreme Court case than it does about outcomes. It also has something to say to universities and organizations about the importance of drafting rules with non-conflicting language."
McGeorge's Constitution Day program was sponsored by the student chapter of the American Constitution Society, the Student Bar Association, and the Faculty Development Committee.