Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sky Is (Not) Falling

Mr. Groothuis of The Constructive Curmudgeon can always be counted on to make unnecessarily inflammatory statements; like this one:

"On April 19, The Supreme Court will decide whether campus Christian groups, such as Navigators and InterVarsity, can exist as official groups when in light of the fact that they require certain beliefs and behaviors of their members. This is another choice between liberty and tyranny."

It's not that I don't believe what Mr. Groothuis says, it's that I have learned not to trust him. So I went and checked the facts of the case and--not surprisingly--liberty and tyranny live only in Chicken Little Curmudgeon's head.

The scare-mongering post on the Curmudgeon's blog refers to Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which will be heard by the Supreme Court next Monday. The gist of the case (as I understand it) is this: Can a public institution refuse to officially recognize an organization that prevents those who do not share its religious and moral values from becoming voting members? More specifically, in the case at hand, can Hastings College of Law, a publicly-funded school, deny the use of its funds, official logo, and other privileges to an entity, specifically Christian Legal Society, which practices discrimination as a requirement for membership (a student club, for example)?

It is important to note that lack of official recognition does not equate the prohibition to exist or to operate on school grounds, or to communicate via certain channels provided by the institution.

If you are interested in the facts of the case, and the implication of the possible rulings I recommend that you click on the preceding links. I also recommend that you read Prof. Volokh's detailed considerations on the case, expressed in various posts of his. Then you can decide for yourself if Mr. Groothuis is right in suggesting that CLS v Martinez is a choice between tyranny and liberty. I don't, and I offer this piece of advice to the tragicomical Curmudgeon:

When a party is sure of the force of its reasoning and of the legal validity of its viewpoint it does not need to resort to hyperbole and fear to secure support for its position.

A choice between tyranny and liberty? Only in Chicken Little's Curmudgeon mind.

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