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ABA Files Brief in Case Weighing Law School
Nondiscrimination Policy and Student Speech
March 16, 2010—The American Bar Association filed an amicus curiae brief late yesterday in the Supreme Court of the United States, supporting a decision by the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, to decline official recognition for a campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society. The school “struck a sound and constitutional balance” between combating discrimination and promoting student free speech, according to the association brief in Christian Legal Society Chapter of University of California, Hastings College of the Law, v. Leo P. Martinez. The two values are “at the heart of the ABA’s mission,” said the ABA, citing “two well-established principles: first, that government may elect not to subsidize organizations that discriminate in ways that undermine the government’s identified mission or conflict with its own messages, and, second, that government may not use its financial assistance to suppress or discourage disfavored speech.” Although the law school did not grant official recognition, which would have entitled the chapter to subsidies and use of the school logo, it continued to allow the chapter to use school facilities, post announcements about its activities and participate in a student organization fair. The ABA brief notes a federal district court ruling that the school applied its nondiscrimination policy in a neutral way.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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