Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Trinity Western Law School

In Trinity Western University v. Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, (NS SC, Jan. 28, 2015), the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, in a 138-page opinion, held that the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society exceeded its authority when it refused to recognize law degrees of Trinity Western University Law School so long as the Christian school's policy continues to prohibit students from engaging in sexual relations outside of traditional heterosexual marriage. According to the Court, the Society has the authority to deal with the education and qualifications of those who practice law in the province. Its action here however dealt with a University policy that does not affect the quality of its graduates.

The Court went on to hold that even if the Society had authority to refuse to recognize TWU's law degrees, it did not exercise the authority in a way that reasonably respects religious liberty and freedom of conscience:
People have the right to attend a private religious university that imposes a religiously based code of conduct. That is the case even if the effect of that code is to exclude others or offend others who will not or cannot comply with the code of conduct. Learning in an environment with people who promise to comply with the code is a religious practice and an expression of religious faith. There is nothing illegal or even rogue about that. That is a messy and uncomfortable fact of life in a pluralistic society. Requiring a person to give up that right in order to get his or her professional education recognized is an infringement of religious freedom.
The Halifax Herald News reports on the decision.