American Military University Wk 7 Violation of First Amendment Rights Responses

Initial Post Question: You read Christian Legal Society Chapter v Martinez this week. This cases was split 5-4.

In your initial discussion post discuss:

1) What were the facts and the ruling in the case?

2) Research and share an example of how another college or university has dealt with a similar controversy. Do you think the school handled the controversy correctly?

Classmate 1 Jenkins: 1) What were the facts and the ruling in the case?

The case of Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez involved the  Christian Legal Society Chapter of  University of California, Hasting College of Law suing the school over freedom of religion issues.  The university refused to recognize the CLS as an official student organization due to the membership requirements.  The organization required members to practicing and devout Christians and did not open themselves up to anyone who thought or believed otherwise.  California state law required all registered student organizations to be inclusive to any and all students regardless of beliefs.  The CLS argued that failure to recognize them as an official student organization based off of their religious beliefs were a violation of their First Amendment rights against religious persecution.  The district court dismissed the case, with the decision being affirmed on appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals with the Ninth Circuit.  The court held “that the school’s conditions on recognizing student groups were viewpoint neutral and reasonable. Therefore, the school’s conditions did not violate the CLS’s First Amendment rights” (  The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the verdict with a majority decision of five to four.  

2) Research and share an example of how another college or university has dealt with a similar controversy. Do you think the school handled the controversy correctly?

In the case of Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Georgia Gwinnett College student Chike Uzuegbunam was distributing religious material in an outdoor plaza in the campus of the college.  He was confronted by a campus police officer and ordered to stop distributing the material. The officers informed him that, according to the school’s “Freedom of Expression” policy, there were only two zones on campus where students were allowed to engage in expressive activities, and this was not one of those zones. The zones also had to be reserved in advance. Uzuegbunam later reserved one of the zones but was once again stopped by campus police after he began distributing religious material.  They informed him that he had exceeded the scope of his reservation by speaking in addition to handing out literature.  Uzuegbunam, along with another student named Joseph Bradford, filed a lawsuit against the school seeking a court judgement that the school’s policy their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.  They sought for a revision of the policy, as well as nominal damages to be paid by the school. Georgia Gwinnett College filed a motion to dismiss the claim, and while it was being litigated, changed their freedom of Expression policy to include students being allowed to express themselves on any area of the campus.  The school took this action with the hope of the case ultimately being dismissed because the cause of the claim had now ben changed and allowance was granted, basically making the claim moot. The district court dismissed the case for that very reason, and the decision was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  However, in a vote of 8 to 1, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision.  They stated that just because a school changes its policies in the middle of a case that favors, it does not change the fact that that school is still responsible for nominal damages sought beforehand.

The entire situation surrounding this case was wrong from the beginning.  If freedom of expression was allowed in certain areas of the campus, then it should have been allowed in all areas, depending on what the action was.  What this student was doing was not egregious or dangerous, and the actions of the police bordered on harassment, especially the second time.  By them changing their policy in the middle of the case was a sign of them knowing the police was wrong in the first place. The high court made the right decision in this case.

Redden, E. (2021, March 9). “Supreme court sides with students in speech zone case”.

Classmate 2 Sherron: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez[1] emerged after the University of California Hastings College of the Law denied official recognition to a Christian student group, the Christian Legal Society (CLS). The case began during the 2004-2005 academic year, when the Hastings chapter of CLS applied to become a Registered Student Organization (RSO), a status that would allow the group to use university facilities and university e-mail systems, and to become eligible for funding to host speakers and to travel. Consistent with national CLS policy, Hastings’ CLS chapter required students who wanted to be voting members or leaders of the organization to sign a Statement of Faith outlining CLS particular understanding of Christian doctrine.

Though voting members and leaders were required to sign the statement, the group allowed all students, regardless of belief, to attend meetings and participate in group activities. Hastings denied CLS application for RSO status because, according to Hastings, CLS Statement of Faith violated Hastings non-discrimination policy by allegedly discriminating on the basis of religion and sexual orientation. Later, once litigation commenced, Hastings argued that it had denied CLS official recognition not because of the non-discrimination policy, but instead because CLS violated the school’s “all comers” policy, which requires any RSO to admit any student as a voting member or leader.

Because Hastings refused to recognize CLS as an RSO, CLS sued Hastings in federal district court, arguing that the refusal violated the group’s rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and equal protection under the law. The district court ruled against CLS, holding that the denial of recognition had no significant impact on the group and that Hastings had an interest in prohibiting discrimination. CLS then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but in a cursory opinion of just two sentences, the Ninth Circuit also found in favor of Hastings. Finally, CLS petitioned for the Supreme Court to hear its case, and the Supreme Court agreed. The Supreme Court ruled that Hastings did not violate CLS First Amendment rights by denying it official recognition under an “all comers” policy. In a sharply divided 5-4 vote, the Court held that a public university could require its student organizations to accept any student as a voting member or leader, regardless of whether the student openly disagrees with or is even hostile to the group’s fundamental beliefs[2].

I found a similar controversy at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). They have two lawsuits pending for policies that illegally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The school’s founding denomination is the Free Methodist Church, and bylaws stipulate that at least one-third of the trustees must be members of that denomination The school’s “Statement on Human Sexuality” affirms that marriage and sex are intended only between a man and a woman. Its “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” prohibit sexually immoral behavior which is inconsistent with Biblical standards. A former staff member of SPU Dyana Herron was told not to forward gay candidates for interviews, nor to inform candidates about those expectations[3]. Another staff member filed a lawsuit accusing SPU of discriminating against him because of his sexual orientation. He says his application for a full-time, tenured position was rejected because he is gay.

And despite an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the Faculty Senate, trustees have declined to change the employment policy or elaborate on that decision. In an April 26 email to faculty, board Chair Cedric Davis wrote that ongoing litigation prevented the board from speaking further, but said it would convene “with a goal of working out a process for dialogue with the community[4].” In my opinion, that is too weak a commitment in response to such heated debate.

[1] Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. 661 (2010)

[2] Id.

[3] Dyana Herron, SPU must confront a hiring policy that discriminates based on sexual orientation, The Seattle Times,  April 23, 2021

[4] SPU should listen and be transparent about LGBTQ policies, The Seattle Times,, May 5th, 2021

Classmate 3 Crystal: Good evening, class!

The facts of this case are that the district court allowed the University of California at Hastings, a law school, to deny recognizing the Christian Legal Society (CLS) as a registered student organization (RSO). The reason why University of California at Hastings refused to recognize CLS is because they restricted its members. The university required compliance with a nondiscrimination policy that covered religion and sexual orientation and that membership in these organization had to be open to all, both leadership and membership. The CLS had a statement of faith that required sex be restricted only if it was between a man and a woman whom were married and they tried to use this as an exemption, but the university refused to allow them that exemption. The US Court of Appeals affirmed the denial and stated that the school’s condition that organizations needed to be unexclusive, so the CLS’s First Amendment rights were not violated. The Supreme Court ruled that a public college does not curtail the First Amendment by declining to acknowledge a student group that refuses to permit all students to join the group, accordance with state law (Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martin, n.d.).

I did some research for an example of a college or university that has had a similar controversy. I wanted to bring attention to Baylor University and their treatment of LGBTQ students. These students are waiting for policy change and more rights at the college. Their journey is ever changing. The language of “homosexual acts” as “misuses of God’s gift,” had been removed from the school’s code of conduct, but these students are unable to form student groups and can’t get activity funding, nor can they reserve space on the campus for it’s meetings. They have been denied formalization of their group, which they have named Gamma Alpha Upsilon (translated to GAY in Greek). The reason the school seems to not acknowledge these individuals in the LGBTQ community is because it would put a damper on their religious affiliation. They are simply asking Baylor to revise the school’s policies on various items. Greta Hays, whom is a  spokeswoman for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, said all private higher education institutions “have the right and ability to ensure that officially recognized student groups are consistent with” their missions.” She wet o to say that this also includes religious convictions and beliefs. While the university in the Christian Legal Society Chapter v Martinez case wanted it to be unexclusive, Baylor has exclusive ideas and a code of conduct. 

As of May 14th, 2021, the school board passed a resolution that states that Baylor has a responsibility for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I think after the various meetings, petitions, and strides that students and faculty made at the school, they made the right decision. With their new policy, sexual relations OF ANY KIND outside of marriage still is questionable, though the Bible mentions only marriage between a man and a woman. Baylor has moved more towards “human sexuality” as opposed to acknowledging LGBTQ students. I think it is a step in the right direction, but they have taken their freedom of religion to an extreme. There even is a website:, which is a site that emphasizes Baylor family members who “affirm that all Baylor students should be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation or gender idenity.”

Baylor is making good strives, but it is still not equal, and I think the slow tick of “handling the controversy” is doing the bare minimum.


Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved May 21, 2021, from

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