Yeshiva University can hold off on recognizing an LGBTQ student group as an official campus club as a result of a Friday order from the Supreme Court.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees New York cases, stayed a state court order that barred the Orthodox Jewish university from blocking the group.
The court, in its order, indicated it would have more to say on the topic in the future.
Four current and former students filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last April after the college denied multiple requests to officially register the group as a student club.
The plaintiffs argued that not allowing such a group to be recognized alongside more than 100 other student clubs was discriminatory and in violation of New York’s human rights law.
New York state judge Lynn Kotler ruled in the group’s favor in June — saying that Yeshiva is not a religious corporation according to its charter, a category exempt from the anti-discrimination state law, so must formally register the club.
Higher state courts denied Yeshiva’s appeals to temporarily not recognize the club as the case is heard on its merits, prompting the university to file its petition with SCOTUS.
“We are pleased with Justice Sotomayor’s ruling which protects our religious liberty and identity as a leading faith-based academic institution,” said Rabbi Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University.
“But make no mistake, we will continue to strive to create an environment that welcomes all students, including those of our LGBTQ community,” said Berman — who added that the administration is in dialogue with students, faculty and Rabbis about creating an “inclusive campus” in accordance with religious values.
Mordechai Levovitz, clinical director at Jewish Queer Youth and a Yeshiva University alum, slammed the university as an “authoritative voice” and questioned the legality of the school’s decision to not recognize the group.
“There are 613 laws in the torah,” said Mordechai Levovitz, clinical director at Jewish Queer Youth and a Yeshiva University alum. “Which law does accepting a club of queer people, which law applies to that? Yeshiva is supposed to be a school that teaches Jewish law.”
“Yeshiva U is an authoritative voice,” said Levovitz. “They have declared that the recognition of queer people being able to gather, find camaraderie in each other, feel a sense of pride is a religious violation.”
“This is not about sex — this is about teens wanting to eat lunch together and talk about issues pertaining to them,” he added.
Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at The Becket Fund, representing the university, said: “Yeshiva shouldn’t have been forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court to receive such a commonsense ruling in favor of its First Amendment rights.”
The Becket Fund has been involved in other high-profile religious freedom cases, including a Jewish group that sued former Gov. Andrew Cuomo over COVID-19 restrictions, and Hobby Lobby stores that opposed a mandate to provide contraceptives to employees on religious grounds, according to its website.