Recent Decisions - SUPREME COURT REVIEW

Journal of Law and Education, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Recent Decisions - SUPREME COURT REVIEW


Final Decisions

DOCKETNO: 08-1371

NAME: Christian Leg. Socy. Ch. of U. of CaL, Hastings College of the L. v. Martinez

DATE: June 28, 2010

CITATION: 78 U.S.L.W. 4821

School religious group brought §1983 action alleging school's nondiscriminatory policy violated group 's free speech and religious freedom rights. Hastings College of the Law (Hastings) requires that student organizations adhere to a written nondiscriminatory policy in order to obtain recognized student organization (RSO) status. Attainment of RSO status allows several benefits such as financial assistance; use of school materials; the ability to promote the group using the school's newsletter, e-mail, and bulletin boards; use of the school logo; and use of office and classroom space. A Christian students' group existed at Hastings since 1994 and had been an RSO. This group sought membership with the national Christian Legal Society and rewrote its bylaws to comply with the national group's standards. The new bylaws excluded homosexuals from membership and required all members to sign a statement of faith in order to obtain membership. The new Christian Legal Society at Hastings (CLS -Hastings) submitted an application for RSO status and included all documents, including the bylaws, for review. Hastings rejected the application claiming that the new bylaws discriminated based on religious beliefs and sexual orientation. CLS-Hastings filed suit. The U.S. district court granted summary judgment in favor of Hastings. CLSHastings appealed. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Held: Nondiscriminatory policy did not violate student organizations free speech or religious freedom rights. The Court found that the RSO setting was a limited public forum that the school had created. In limited public forums the government may impose limits on speech as long as those limits are reasonable in the particular situation and are viewpoint neutral. The Court found that the nondiscrimination policy met both the reasonableness test and the viewpoint neutral test. CLS-Hastings also asked the Court to find that the policy as written was discriminatory and that Hastings applied the tests in a discriminatory matter. The Court also found that CLS-Hastings was bound by its stipulation that the policy was non-discriminatory. Finally, the Court found that it was not the proper forum to decide if the policy was applied in a discriminatory matter as the issue had not been raised before. Christian Leg. Socy. Ch. of U. of CaL, Hastings College of the L. v. Martinez, 130 S. Ct. 2971 (2010).

Dismissal of Previously Granted Cert. Petition

DOCKETNO: 09-1126

NAME: DePree v. Saunders

DATE: June 16, 2010

CITATION (of Dismissal): 78 U.S.L.W. 3744

CASE BELOW: 588 F. 3d 282

Tenured professor filed §1983 action and breach of contract, defamation, assault, and state tort claims against university president and other university officials claiming violation of his free speech and due process rights. Professor DePree was removed from his teaching duties and barred from entering the school by the university president on the grounds that Depree had created an environment that made the faculty and students feel unsafe and limited the capacity of the school of business. Depree filed suit alleging that the school was acting in retaliation due to remarks Depree had made about the school on his website and his complaints to the accrediting agency about the school. After the suit was filed, the university president ordered DePree to undergo a mental health examination. DePree refused. No further action was taken. The district court granted summary judgment for the university president and other administrators. DePree appealed. Held: University president was entitled to qualified immunity and other administrators could not be held liable as decision was made only by president. Due process was not violated as the professor 's pay was continued. …

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