WASHINGTON D.C. — (09-09-22) — Justice Sonia Sotomayor is allowing Yeshiva University to ban an LGBT student club that the Jewish school based in New York City claims, violates its religious values. Sotomayor says that she is temporarily blocking a judge’s ruling ordering it to allow the LGBT student club.

Sotomayor also put on hold for now the lower court’s ruling on a city anti-discrimination law that required Yeshiva University to recognize ‘Y.U. Pride Alliance‘ as a student club while the university pursues an appeal in a lower court.

The stay Sotomayor issued of the judge’s injunction will remain in place pending a further order from herself or the entire Supreme Court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative packed majority.

The Y.U. Pride Alliance’s application process was set to end on Monday, and the school said that absent the court’s intervention it would be forced to recognize Y.U. Pride Alliance in violation of its religious values.

“We are grateful that Justice Sotomayor stepped in to protect Yeshiva’s religious liberty in this case,” said Eric Baxter, a lawyer for Yeshiva at the conservative legal group Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Katherine Rosenfeld, a lawyer for the Y.U. Pride Alliance club, said “We will await a final order from the court and remains committed to creating a safe space for LGBT students on the university’s campus “to build community and support one another without being discriminated against.”

Y.U. Pride Alliance formed unofficially as a group in 2018 but Yeshiva determined that granting it official status would be “inconsistent with the school’s Torah values and the religious environment it seeks to maintain.”

The dispute hinges in part on whether Yeshiva is a “religious corporation” and therefore exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law, which bans discrimination by a place or provider of public accommodation.

Back in June, New York state judge Lynn Kotler said that the school’s primary purpose is education, not religious worship, and it is subject to anti-discrimination law.

Kotler also rejected the university’s argument that forcing it to recognize the club would violate its religious freedom protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

After the university failing to garner an appeal from the state’s supreme court, Yeshiva turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, emphasizing its religious character, including that undergraduate students are required to engage in intense religious studies.

“As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values,” the school told the Supreme Court.

Now that the Republican party has packed the U.S. Supreme Court with religious conservatives, the court has expanded religious rights while narrowing the separation between church and state.

During its term that ended in June, SCOTUS ruled in favor of a public high school football coach in Washington state who refused to stop leading Christian prayers with players on the field after games and ruled in favor of Christian families in Maine who sought access to taxpayer money to pay for their children to attend religious schools.

Coming up in the next term of the U.S. Supreme Court which begins on October 3, the court will decide a major new legal fight pitting religious liberty against LGBT rights involving an evangelical Christian web designer’s free speech claim that she cannot be forced under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law to produce websites for same-sex marriages.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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