Sunday, May 09, 2010

Free Markets, Closed Minds

The Christian Legal Society (CLS), a college club for law students, discriminates against homosexuals. OK, that’s their right. But when they want other students to financially support them through student fees, they cross a line that should not be crossed.

The first amendment allows for all kinds of bias and discrimination, but it doesn’t obligate others to pay for it. Yet that is what the CLS is arguing before the Supreme Court in its case against University of California’s Hastings College of Law. Hastings refused to fund CLS because it violated the college’s policy that student groups funded by student fees levied on all students must be open to all students. Since CLS isn’t open to homosexuals, student fees cannot fund it.

Supporters of CLS argue that this would force the group to let homosexuals join, and, if they have the numbers, take over. This is nonsense. The college didn’t say the group has to admit homosexuals, it just said it won’t use student funds to support student groups that discriminate against some students. Do what you want, just don’t expect the rest of us to pay for it.

Most likely the Supremes will complicate the issue so as to either avoid ruling meaningfully, or to force Hastings to use student monies to fund CLS, hence forcing gay students to pay for their own discrimination. But the issue is really quite simple: you can form whatever clubs you want; just don’t make everyone pay for it. Student fees should go to support only those student clubs open to all students.

For example, Jewish clubs that restrict membership or leadership to Jews are fine; just don’t make nonJews pay for them. Anti-Semitic groups that refuse to accept Jewish members are kosher; just don’t make Jews pay for them. If students in restricted clubs can’t raise the funds to support their clubs, then those clubs will fail. It is called the free market.

Why is it that conservatives like the Christian Legal Society only like capitalism when it favors them?


andrea perez said...

This is the part of the argument I don't get:
If student funds are paying for the buildings, space, etc. that they are meeting in...unlike a public library, where the space is collective..does our money then go to pay for their bias? If a non-Jew wants to join Hillel and behave respectfully, then so be it.
I thought this argument was solved years ago when all boy military schools had to admit girls if there is public funding involved.
Why does this always come down to money? Why isn't the same argument used by the other side to support not funding the anti-abortion, let's blow up doctors mind thought? I don't want to pay for their wars of aggression against half the known world.(okay that's an exaggeration..a tenth?) How come they want money to bar gays and at the same time want to dictate who gets money to maintain women's health? I hope the Supreme court tells doesn't respond to's time to go back to kindergarten and learn to play with each other.

Steve Frazee said...

Great post! People should be free to form organizations and admit or reject anyone, but not if they are funded communally. Which is why I’m not a fan of tax exemptions for religious organizations.

Rabbi Rami said...

Andrea, the issues isn't public funds but student fees. The fees are used to pay for clubs not buildings.

Peter Schogol said...

Let's hope the Supremes have a rare moment of clarity and vote against the CLS. Either that or let's pray that Elana Kagan kicks butt.

andrea perez said...

Haven't been to college in a long time. Still, don't get how there can be "clubs" on a public campus or any other place that receive Federal Funds( of Pell Grants etc.) that are allowed to bar anyone from attending. I didn't think under "free speech", actions were covered such as denying people entry into a public space or to receive a service offered. Don't know why anyone who is being put down would want to attend such a "club" but it would be their right to attend. Sort of like Ruby Bridges going to an all white school and getting rid of that separate but equal thing.
I thought the way to "get around" it would be to have a list of services provided when you sign up for a semester (sort of like when you pay your taxes) that ask permission to take a portion as a donation. So if a "clubs" charter is singling out groups to ban, you can say no to assisting them. Live and learn.