Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Supreme Court Got It Right 9-0

Free speech and association win again:
The recent UCLA controversy involving the fraternity and sorority Kim Kardashian/Kanye West party reminded me of the Supreme Court’s most recent pronouncement on university student speech. In that case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), the Court held that universities may require student organizations that get university-provided benefits to accept all would-be members — including ones whose beliefs are at odds with the organization’s principles (e.g., if an atheist wants to join the Christian student group, or vice versa). I think that was correct, for reasons I gave in this article...

So if a group wants to express hostility to homosexuality — or hostility based on race, or sex, or religion, or what have you — it has the right to do that. And that’s so even if the group seeks access (on the same terms as other groups) to generally available university property, services, and subsidies. And on this point, the Court was unanimous: The liberal Justices plus Justice Kennedy took this view; the other conservative Justices would have just taken this further, to secure student groups’ right to choose their members as well as their right to choose their speech.
So what is this UCLA controversy?  From the Daily Bruin:
By hosting a “Kanye Western”-themed raid, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi have brought UCLA Greek Life to national attention for the worst reason. The office of UCLA Fraternity and Sorority Relations must take action to ensure such an event doesn’t occur again on our campus, and the university must recognize the need to prevent racist incidents that don’t necessarily target, but nonetheless demeans UCLA’s black community.
Imagine our society without the First Amendment.  Imagine what campus totalitarians would be doing then.  We should offer thanks daily for the wisdom of the Founders of this country.

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