- September 2010
- IRA Rollover Remains on Hold
- Estate Tax Bill Introduced by Senate
- Campaign-Finance Bill Stalls in Senate, Alleviating Advocacy Groups' Concerns
- Federal Government Awards $50 Million in First Set of Innovations Grants
- Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow to Human-Rights and Aid Groups
- Supreme Court’s Ruling in College Case Could Impact Charities
- HHS Proposes HIPAA Regulations Changes Affecting Fundraising
- Religion-Based Groups Protest Restrictions in Bill
- Senator Wants More Disclosure by Non Profits about Donors
- Coalition Wants Charity Stipulation in Boston Hospital Deal
- States Seeks to Limit Nonprofit CEO Pay as Part of Budget-Cutting Efforts
- Two NY Charities Refuse to Return Gifts from Donor Convicted of Fraud
- Oregon Wants to Close Vets Charity Over Telemarketing Fees
- Florida Bars Fund Raising by Veterans Group
- NY Governor Signs Law to Limit Charitable Deductions for Wealthy
- Law Suit Claims Mismanagement Killed NY Hospital
- IRS Offers Small Charities ‘One-Time Relief’ Through Extended Deadline
- U.S. Postal Service Proposes Rate Increase
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Supreme Court’s Ruling in College Case Could Impact Charities
The Supreme Court ruled in Hastings Christian Fellowship v. Martinez that a university can force any club to let a person join, even if he totally disagrees with its purposes. And as a member, he can launch a hostile takeover.
This may not have a good result for the principle of freedom of association, because it fails to recognize that for nonprofit groups to be effective in championing unpopular views, they often need to place restrictions on who can join their organizations.
The Supreme Court case grew out of a refusal by the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California to recognize a chapter of the Christian Legal Society, a national organization that has sought to create affiliates on many campuses. Like many colleges, Hastings requires student organizations to obtain official recognition before they can receive the institution’s support for their activities. It also requires those organizations to adhere to a nondiscrimination policy. Hastings interprets nondiscrimination to mean that a group must accept all comers,” admitting any student who wants to join.
That became a problem for the Christian Legal Society, which requires its members to sign a statement of faith” that affirms their theological views. When the Christian Legal Society chapter sought recognition from Hastings, it also asked for an exemption from college’s nondiscrimination policy. Otherwise, the society said, the college would violate the organization’s First Amendment freedom of association by forcing the group to include members who do not share its most fundamental views. Hastings denied the exemption, so the society sued.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, writing for the majority, that this was not a simple mater of “expressive association.” Instead, the case was governed by what is called the limited public forum” doctrine, which permits colleges, universities, and other institutions—including those, like Hastings, that receive government money—to restrict First Amendment rights if they have a valid reason to do so. The court held that Hastings had valid reasons, including the encouragement of “tolerance, cooperation, and learning among students.”
Justice Ginsburg and her colleagues reasoned, the Hastings policy was not biased toward particular points of view. As long as the policy was applied evenhandedly, regardless of a group’s viewpoint, the “accept all comers” rule was an acceptable restriction on the First Amendment.