Bill Would Prohibit Discrimination Against Student Religious Gro -

Bill Would Prohibit Discrimination Against Student Religious Groups

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The SC Senate meets Tuesday afternoon. The SC Senate meets Tuesday afternoon.

A bill in a South Carolina state Senate subcommittee would prohibit state colleges and universities from denying a religious student association any benefit that's available to any other student group.

Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, says his bill is in direct response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case involving a law school in California that would not officially recognize the Christian Legal Society as a registered student  association.

"It really is the most shocking Supreme Court decision I've ever read, perhaps," he says.

The Christian Legal Society tried to register with the Hastings School of Law, part of the University of California. The CLS requires all of its members to sign a statement of faith confirming that they are Christians and adhere to basic principles of that faith.

The law school rejected the CLS's application, saying the group violated the schools non-discrimination policy, which prohibits student groups from discriminating based on religion or sexual orientation. The CLS's statement of faith included a section stating that members believe sexual immorality is wrong and that marriage should be only between one man and one woman.

Sen. Campsen says the school had more than 60 registered student groups and the CLS was the only one that had ever been rejected, and that student political groups were not penalized for requiring their members to be members of the same political party.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law school, saying its non-discrimination policy was constitutional and meant student groups were open to everyone, and that the CLS was the one seeking special treatment by asking to be the only group not required to accept anyone, regardless of religion.

The court's majority opinion said, "The all-comers policy is a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the RSO (Registered Student Organization) forum; it therefore does not transgress First Amendment limitations."

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the court's ruling provided, "No freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country's institutions of higher learning."

Sen. Campsen says his bill would prevent any student religious association on a South Carolina campus from being discriminated against, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.

The bill was scheduled for debate in a Senate subcommittee meeting Tuesday afternoon but the meeting was canceled.


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