Friday, July 10, 2015

Ontario Court Upholds Law Society's Refusal To Accredit Christian Law School

In Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada, (ON Super. Ct., July 2, 2015), a 3-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to deny accreditation to the law school which Trinity Western University (TWU)-- an evangelical Christian school-- plans to open.  The Law Society's denial was based on TWU's Community Covenant that all students are required to sign, and in particular the Covenant's ban on "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."

According to the court, the Law Society "was essentially asked to approve and accept students from an institution that engaged in discrimination against persons
who did not share the religious beliefs that were held by TWU, and the student body that it prefers to have at its institution." The court went on:
In exercising its mandate to advance the cause of justice, to maintain the rule of law, and to act in the public interest, the [Law Society] was entitled to balance the applicants’ rights to freedom of religion with the equality rights of its future members, who include members from two historically disadvantaged minorities (LGBTQ persons and women). It was entitled to consider the impact on those equality rights of accrediting TWU’s law school, and thereby appear to give recognition and approval to institutional discrimination against those same minorities. Condoning discrimination can be ever much as harmful as the act of discrimination itself.
Mondaq summarizes the decision.