The Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to block an order from a lower court stating that Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution located in New York, is required to recognize an LGBTQ student group.
The lower court ordered Yeshiva to recognize the group in accordance with the state of New York’s anti-discrimination law. While the law does contain an exemption for religious institutions, a judge found that the school’s charter identifies it as an “educational corporation” and not a religious one.
The court also disagreed that New York’s anti-discrimination law, called the New York Human Rights Law, violates the school’s first amendment rights.
According to CNN, Judge Lynn R. Kotler stated that the law “does not target religious practice, its intent is to deter discrimination, only, and it applies equally to all places of public accommodation other than those expressly exempted as distinctly private or a religious corporation organized under the education or religious law.”
Yeshiva argued to the Supreme Court that this decision is an “unprecedented intrusion into Yeshiva’s church autonomy” and that the school “cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values.”
But the order from the Supreme Court is not set in stone, as the New York appellate courts have not yet ruled on the case. As such, the Justices said Yeshiva could bring its case back to the Supreme Court once the state court has issued a decision.
The decision came in a 5-4 vote, with Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Clarence Thomas issuing a dissenting opinion.
According to SCOTUS Blog, Justice Alito said that if the case finds its way back to the Supreme Court on merits, Yeshiva would likely win with a religious liberty argument, which is possible considering the court’s conservative majority.
Alito also argued that the Court should have intervened immediately.
“It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial,” he wrote, emphasizing his belief that Yeshiva is losing its First Amendment rights and that loss “for even a short period” is unacceptable.
Members of the school’s Pride Alliance, however, argued that this emergency request really wasn’t that emergent and that it was not yet an issue for the Supreme Court to decide.
All Yeshiva currently has to do, the group said, is grant the group access to school facilities in the same way it does for the 87 other student groups on campus and doing so “does not touch the university’s well-established right to express to all students its sincerely held religious beliefs.”
NBC News reported that the group also pointed out that Yeshiva’s law school has had an LGBTQ group for many years and that the student bill of rights put forth by the school invokes the New York Human Rights Law barring anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Jillian Weinberg, a graduate student, told CNN the university’s Ferkauf School of Psychology also recognizes LGTBQ groups.