WASHINGTON — (AP) — The Supreme Court cleared the way for an LGBTQ group to gain official recognition as a Jewish college in New York, though that might not last.
By a 5-4 vote on Wednesday, judges lifted a temporary stay of a court order that requires Yeshiva University to recognize the group, the YU Pride Alliance, even as a legal fight continues in the courts from New York.
Two conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, sided with the court’s three liberal justices to form a majority.
The disagreement between the judges appears to be mostly over procedure, with the majority writing in a brief unsigned order that Yeshiva should return to state court to seek a speedy review and temporary relief while the case continues.
If it doesn’t win either state court, the school can go back to the Supreme Court, the majority wrote.
Four conservative justices dissented, in an opinion written by Judge Samuel Alito that the recognition should have been suspended because Yeshiva forcefully argued that its First Amendment religious rights were violated.
The Constitution “prohibits a state from applying its own preferred interpretation of Holy Scripture. Yet that is exactly what New York did in this case, and it is disappointing that a majority of this Court refuses to grant a repair,” Alito wrote. Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett joined his opinion.
The result, Alito wrote, is that Yeshiva will likely have to recognize the Pride Alliance “for at least a while (and possibly for a long time).”
On Friday, Judge Sonia Sotomayor signed the order putting things on hold and indicated the court would have more to say on the matter.
The university, an Orthodox Jewish institution in New York, argued that granting recognition to the Pride Alliance would “violate its sincere religious beliefs.”
The club argued that Yeshiva’s plea to the Supreme Court was premature, also noting that the university had already recognized a gay pride club at its law school.
A New York state court sided with the student group and ordered the university to immediately recognize the club. The case is still on appeal in the state court system, but judges have declined to stay the order in the meantime.
The Supreme Court has been very receptive to religious freedom claims in recent years.
In June, conservatives who held a 6-3 majority overturned a Maine program banning state funds from being spent on religious schools and ruled that a state high school football coach Washington was allowed to pray on the field after games.
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