Wednesday, August 03, 2011

9th Circuit: University Rule On Student Groups Upheld On Its Face, But Remanded On Discriminatory Application Claim

In Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter v. Reed, (9th Cir., Aug. 2, 2011), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the facial constitutionality of a San Diego State University policy that denies recognition to any student group that "restricts membership or eligibility to hold appointed or elected student officer positions ...  on the basis of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicap, ancestry, or medical condition." However, the court concluded that plaintiffs had raised a triable issue of fact as to whether the University applied the policy in a discriminatory manner in denying recognition to a Christian fraternity and sorority, while granting recognition to certain other groups that limited their membership. Judge Ripple concurred on the ground that the University's policy marginalizes religiously based groups because their members' shared beliefs coincide with their shared status as members of a religion. Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.