Federal Investigation Into Anti-Christian Bias at Yale

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by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 15, 2019   

Nation's top law school rejects pluralism

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Yale is being investigated for alleged anti-Christian discrimination.

Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), issued a scathing letter to Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken on April 4 in which the chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced an investigation into alleged school discrimination against Christian law students.

He cited Yale's recently adopted policy that prohibits "stipends and student loan repayments for students serving in organizations professing traditional Christian views or adhering to traditional sexual ethics" as "transparently discriminatory."

At issue is the Yale chapter of the student conservative group the Federalist Society that invited a speaker from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to deliver a speech on campus. The guest speaker was to discuss the First Amendment ramifications for Christian business owners in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Upon announcement of the February event, many other Yale student groups — led by Outlaws, an LGBTQ organization — called for a boycott of the ADF appearance. Outlaws and other groups enjoining their cause also sought to eliminate school-funded stipends and loan repayment programs for students belonging to campus organization adhering to traditional Christian beliefs regarding human sexuality.

According to the Washington Examiner, Outlaws sent out a campus-wide email in which they stated, "We are asking the Yale Law School administration to clarify its SPIF [Summer Public Internship Fellowship] and admissions policies regarding organizations that discriminate against members of its community. ... Will students be able to receive SPIF funding to push discriminatory agendas during their summers?"

On Feb. 25, Outlaws sent out another email, saying, "Let's call a spade a spade: ADF is a hate group that does not belong on our campus and does not deserve legitimization."

The First Amendment protects both free speech and the Free Exercise of religion. Yale's new policy does neither.

Gerkin responded subsequently in an email that the university couldn't prohibit students from participating in internships or full-time work with such groups as ADF, but added the school was under no "obligation to fund that work, particularly if that organization does not give equal employment opportunity to all of our students." 

The Washington Examiner reported that Yale offered $1.8 million on the SPIF program, the Career Options Assistance Program and post-graduate fellowships. Additionally, the newspaper said, the school spent $5.2 million in 2017 on "educational loan payment assistance to hundreds of graduates 'who choose lower paying positions.'"

Gerkin's email prompted Sen. Cruz to write in response that Yale was exhibiting "unconstitutional animus and a specific discriminatory intent both to blacklist Christian organizations and to punish Yale students whose values or religious faith lead them to work there." Elsewhere in the letter, he calls the Yale policy "transparently discriminatory."

In an essay published at The Federalist, third-year Yale Law School student Aaron Haviland filled in details of the scandal.

Writing that he was a member of the Federalist Society chapter that invited the ADF speaker, the graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge, as well as formerly serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he anticipated controversy due to the fact ADF had been included on the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) list of so-called "hate groups" because it champions the traditional religious view on marriage and sexuality [Editor's note: Church Militant is also on the SPLC list].

Almost immediately after the guest speaker was announced, wrote Haviland, emails protesting the selection began pouring in:

The emails were a veritable alphabet soup of identity groups, including: APALSA (Asian Pacific American Law Students Association); BLSA (Black Law Students Association); SALSA (South Asian Law Students Association); LLSA (Latinx Law Students Association); MLSA (Muslim Law Students Association); MENALSA (Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association); and JLSA (Jewish Law Students Association).

NALSA (Native American Law Students Association) said ADF employees were not welcome on their "ancestral lands." The Yale Law Women, Yale Law Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice, and the Women of Color Collective joined, as did the American Constitution Society, the Yale Law Democrats, and the First Generation Professionals.

In addition to the boycott, some students said people who supported ADF's position should no longer be admitted to the law school. One student emailed a list of the Federalist Society board members (publicly available information) so students would know whom to "thank" for this event.

"The First Amendment protects both free speech and the Free Exercise of religion," wrote Sen. Cruz. "Yale's new policy does neither."

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