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Academic Freedom File

  • And Then There Is The Establishment Clause ....
    Academic Freedom File on May 5, 2010

    I want to add a thought to Greg Baylor's excellent post below on Changes in Religious Organizations and the Government. There is a big, huge Establishment Clause issue here, too. Ponder for a moment what the University of California-Hastings in effect said in its brief to the Supreme Court: "We wouldn't be having this case if the Christian Legal Society would adopt the theological views on homosexual behavior and the definition of marriage that some liberal seminaries hold."

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  • Changes in Religious Organizations and the Government
    Academic Freedom File on May 5, 2010

    The Associated Press reports that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has reinstated two homosexual men in a relationship with one another to its clergy roster. The story indicates that "[t]he church adopted revisions to ministry policy documents last month, making it possible for 'eligible Lutherans in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships' to serve as clergy." As a matter of Christian ethics and ecclesiology, I disagree with the ELCA's move. That disagreement, however, is irrelevant to the point I want to make: that churches and other religious organizations should be free to maintain their doctrines -- or change their minds - without undue government interference. (I am aware of no evidence that the ELCA revised its policy in direct response to perceived changes in the legal environment.)

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  • Blood Battle: San Jose State University Chooses Sex Over Life & Liberty
    Academic Freedom File on May 3, 2010

    This month, San Jose State University President, Jon Whitmore, decided to continue a two year old policy of suspending all blood drives on campus. The reason? Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bans men who have had sex with other men (MSM) from donating blood. According to SJSU, this violates the University’s policy against sexual orientation discrimination. The implications of this decision are quite shocking.

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  • A Response to Profs. Amar and Brownstein re CLS v. Martinez
    Academic Freedom File on May 3, 2010

    Professors Vik Amar and Alan Brownstein of UC Davis law school have written a column on CLS v. Martinez. In that column, they (1) raise questions about the ramifications of a victory for CLS; and (2) take issue with certain of CLS's viewpoint discrimination arguments. This blog post addresses the first of these.

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  • The New York Times Gets Hastings Wrong
    Academic Freedom File on April 30, 2010

    In a house editorial, the New York Times urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against Christian Legal Society and for Hastings College of the Law in CLS v. Martinez. What follows is a response, submitted to but not published by The Times.

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  • Straining the Gnat and Swallowing the Camel: What Universities Can Learn From The Mojave Cross Decision
    Academic Freedom File on April 30, 2010

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday handed down its decision in the Mojave cross case, Salazar v. Buono. The decision retains (at least for now) the cross erected by World War I veterans to honor their fallen brothers in the Mojave National Monument. Many have written insightful commentary on the decision here, here and here. But university officials should learn from this case that historically, the point of the Establishment Clause was to stop government coercion of its citizens to conform their thinking to the prevailing state orthodoxy.

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  • Perhaps the Worst Op-Ed on CLS v. Martinez
    Academic Freedom File on April 29, 2010

    Insider Higher Ed has published what may be the worst opinion piece regarding Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Given the extremely heavy competition, this is quite an achievement . . . albeit a dubious one. The essay's author, John K. Wilson, bizarrely contends that public universities will be required to "enforce" a religious student group's own leadership and voting membership criteria. He seems to simply misunderstand the nature of the relationship between student groups and universities.

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  • Breaking: New Speak Up University Blog
    Academic Freedom File on April 26, 2010

    We are proud to announce a new fully integrated, socially connected Speak Up University Blog. The new Speak Up University blog can be found at http://blog.speakupmovement.org/university/

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  • California Legislature seeks creation of "Discrimination-Free Zones" at all state universities
    Academic Freedom File on April 13, 2010

    I have been rough on my home state in recent posts. Whether chiding the University of California Regents over a proposed speech code or pointing out the contradictory approaches to student speech, the lack of respect for student speech in California has caused me to cringe. But just when I thought I was being too hard on the State I love, the California Legislature moves one step closer to creating "Discrimination-Free Zones" on all public school campuses, including universities. And now I don't feel so guilty.

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  • USA Today and CLS v. Martinez
    Academic Freedom File on April 10, 2010

    USA Today took on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 19) in a recent opinion column by Tom Krattenmaker. In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether Hastings College of the Law violated the Constitution by refusing to recognize a Christian Legal Society chapter because it draws its officers and voting members from among those who share its religious commitments (both doctrinal and ethical). Mr. Krattenmaker's primary points are (1) this case is hard; and (2) there should be some compromise. As to the assertion that this case is hard, the unstated underlying assumption seems to be that the law has never considered what to do with religious groups that want to choose their leaders and members based on religious beliefs. This assumption is demonstrably false. The law almost always respects the freedom of religious groups to use religious criteria to define themselves.

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