Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Becket Role:


Decision Date:
June 28, 2010
Deciding Court:
U.S. Supreme Court

Case Summary

In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a Christian student group was denied official recognition by a public law school because the group insisted that its voting members and leaders accept and adhere to a statement of faith.  UC Hastings College of Law, located in San Francisco, decided that the Christian Legal Society (CLS) policies violated the school nondiscrimination policy. CLS limited voting membership and leadership to Christians who agreed with the group’s statement of faith, including its teachings on sexual morality. The Becket Fund filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of a coalition of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Sikh groups, arguing that religious groups have the constitutional right to determine the requirements of membership in their organizations.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of UC Hastings, calling into question the associational rights of student groups across the nation. Four justices filed a strong dissent, calling the decision “deeply disappointing” and “serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.” That dissent relied in part on the arguments made by the Becket Fund.

Case Information

Becket Role:
Case Start Date:
October 22, 2004
Current Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Original Court:
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
Supreme Court Status:
Practice Area(s):