Justice Sotomayor stays order forcing Jewish university to recognize LGBT student club

Sotomayor did not rule on the merits of the case, but issued temporary relief, pending further litigation.

Updated: September 9, 2022 - 9:22pm

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday issued a stay on a lower court order that would have forced a Jewish university to recognize an LGBT student club in conflict with its religious mission.

The order stayed a ruling from the New York trial court, determining that Yeshiva University did not qualify for religious exemptions under the state's anti-discrimination laws.

An Orthodox Jewish institution, Yeshiva upholds traditional Jewish doctrines, which generally prohibit homosexual activity. The school admits LGBT students but denied a student group's request to approve a " YU Pride Alliance" club, determining that the religious institution could not endorse such an organization. The students then sued over alleged violations of the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination, but exempts "religious corporations," according to Becket Law, which is representing Yeshiva.

"The court finds that Yeshiva's educational function, evidenced by its ability to now confer many secular multi disciplinary degrees, thus became Yeshiva's primary purpose. Even if Yeshiva still 'promote[d] the study of Talmud,' that does not necessarily make Yeshiva a religious corporation," wrote Judge Lynne Kotler, according to the National Review. Essentially, because the school does not exclusively offer religious education, it is not a religious corporation.

Sotomayor did not rule on the merits of the case, but issued temporary relief, pending further litigation.

"We are pleased with Justice Sotomayor’s ruling which protects our religious liberty and identity as a leading faith-based academic institution," said Yeshiva President Rabbi Ari Berman, per a Becket press release. "But make no mistake, we will continue to strive to create an environment that welcomes all students, including those of our LGBTQ community. We remain committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue with our students, Rabbis and faculty about how best to ensure an inclusive campus for all students in accordance with our Torah values."