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The Supreme Court has given Yeshiva University permission to stop an LGBTQ student club for now

A Friday order from the Supreme Court says that Yeshiva University doesn't have to make an LGBTQ student group an official campus club right away.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is in charge of cases in New York, stopped an order from a state court that said the Orthodox Jewish university couldn't stop the group.

In its order, the court said that it would have more to say about the subject in the future.

In April 2016, four current and former students filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court after the college repeatedly turned down their requests to make the group an official student club.

The people who sued said that not recognizing this group along with more than 100 other student clubs was unfair and against New York's human rights law.

In June, New York state judge Lynn Kotler ruled in favor of the group. She said that Yeshiva's charter shows that it is not a religious corporation, which is exempt from the state's anti-discrimination law, so the group must officially register the club.

The judge claimed that the university was not religious in its charter.
New York state judge Lynn Kotler ruled in the group’s favor in June.
YU Pride Alliance

Higher state courts turned down Yeshiva's requests to temporarily stop recognizing the club until the case is heard on its merits. This led the university to file its petition with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

Rabbi Ari Berman, the president of Yeshiva University, said, "We are happy with Justice Sotomayor's decision. It protects our religious freedom and our identity as a leading faith-based academic institution."

"But make no mistake, we will keep working to create an environment that welcomes all students, including those in our LGBTQ community," Berman said, adding that the administration is talking with students, faculty, and Rabbis about making a "inclusive campus" that fits with religious values.

Mordechai Levovitz, the clinical director of Jewish Queer Youth and a graduate of Yeshiva University, called the school a "authoritative voice" and questioned whether or not it was legal for the school to decide not to recognize the group.

Four current and former students filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last April.
Four current and former students filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last April.
Getty Images

“There are 613 laws in the torah,” said Mordechai Levovitz, clinical director at Jewish Queer Youth and a Yeshiva University alum. “Which law does accepting a club of queer people, which law applies to that? Yeshiva is supposed to be a school that teaches Jewish law.”

“Yeshiva U is an authoritative voice,” said Levovitz. “They have declared that the recognition of queer people being able to gather, find camaraderie in each other, feel a sense of pride is a religious violation.”

“This is not about sex — this is about teens wanting to eat lunch together and talk about issues pertaining to them,” he added.

"Yeshiva shouldn't have had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get such a commonsense ruling in favor of its First Amendment rights," said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at The Becket Fund, which represented the university.

According to its website, the Becket Fund has been involved in other high-profile cases involving religious freedom. For example, a Jewish group sued former Gov. Andrew Cuomo over COVID-19 restrictions, and Hobby Lobby stores fought against a law that required them to give their employees contraceptives on religious grounds.

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